Alignment: Overall Summary

The instructional materials reviewed for Calvert partially meet expectations of alignment to the standards. Materials meet the expectations of providing texts worthy of students’ time and attention. Instructional materials partially meet the expectation of providing opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills. Materials meet the criteria for providing opportunities for different genres and modes of writing. Instructional materials partially provide coherently sequenced questions and tasks to support students in developing literacy skills and do not provide culminating tasks in which students can demonstrate their knowledge of a topic through integrated skills. The foundational skills included in the materials partially meet expectations.


See Rating Scale
Understanding Gateways

Alignment

|

Partially Meets Expectations

Gateway 1:

Text Quality

0
20
37
42
32
37-42
Meets Expectations
21-36
Partially Meets Expectations
0-20
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Building Knowledge

0
15
28
32
20
28-32
Meets Expectations
16-27
Partially Meets Expectations
0-15
Does Not Meet Expectations

Usability

|

Not Rated

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

0
23
30
34
N/A
30-34
Meets Expectations
24-29
Partially Meets Expectations
0-23
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway One

Text Quality & Complexity and Alignment to Standards Components

Partially Meets Expectations

+
-
Gateway One Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet expectations for text quality for complexity and alignment to the standards. Materials include questions, tasks, and assignments that are text-based. Materials do not provide opportunities for discussion that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and partially supports student listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching. Materials meet the criteria for providing opportunities for different genres and modes of writing. Students have opportunities for evidence-based writing. Materials partially meet the criteria for materials including explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context. The instructional materials partially meet the criteria for materials, questions, and tasks address grade-level CCSS for foundational skills by providing explicit instruction and assessment in phonics and word recognition that demonstrate a research-based progression.


Criterion 1a - 1f

Texts are worthy of students' time and attention: texts are of quality and are rigorous, meeting the text complexity criteria for each grade. Materials support students' advancing toward independent reading.
18/20
+
-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for including anchor texts that are of publishable quality, are worthy of especially careful reading and/or listening, and consider a range of student interests. Texts meet the text complexity criteria for each grade and reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards. Students engage in a range and volume of reading. Materials meet the criteria that anchor texts and the series of text connected to them are accompanied by a text complexity analysis and rationale for purpose and placement in the grade level. Materials partially meet the expectations for materials supporting students’ literacy skills over the course of the school year through increasingly complex text to develop independence of grade level skills.

Indicator 1a

Anchor texts are of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading and consider a range of student interests.
4/4
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the expectations for anchor texts being of publishable quality and worthy of careful reading and consider a range of student interests.

Texts are high quality, including rich language and engaging content. Accompanying illustrations are high quality as well, supporting students' understanding and comprehension of the associated text. Examples of quality texts include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Unit 1, students read Porpoises in Peril by Gwendolyn Hooks. Porpoises in Peril is a fiction story that contains factual information. The text is engaging and helps build students’ knowledge of the concepts through the use of accurate scientific language.
  • In Unit 1, students read Skeletons Inside and Out by Claire Daniel. Skeletons Inside and Out is an informational, content-specific text. The text is engaging and includes factual information with rich language and appealing illustrations. It shows how complex structures work together.
  • In Unit 2, students read, Why the Sea is Salty by Dot Meharry. Why the Sea is Salty is a literary text, specifically a legend set in the Philippines. The text is of high quality due to the text type, the challenging action verbs, figurative language, and knowledge demands.
  • In Unit 2, students read The Longest Night by Jacqueline Guest. The Longest Night is a narrative literary text about a Native American boy’s vision quest. The text contains vocabulary which include Native American terms, knowledge demands about ceremonies and Native American customs, and story flashbacks.
  • In Unit 3, students read Earthquakes by Seymour Simon. Earthquakes is an informational narrative text in which students learn about the causes and impacts of earthquakes and where they occur. The text is heavily illustrated with photos, maps, and diagrams. Students are exposed to clearly defined scientific terms, illustrations, and photos that aid text meaning as well as multiple-meaning words. Students learn geology of earthquakes;, geography, and scientific terminology.
  • In Unit 3, students read Anatomy of a Volcanic Eruption by Amie Jean Leavitt. Anatomy of a Volcanic Eruption is an informational text that contains a broad range of information about volcanic eruptions. The text contains chapters; photographs, drawings, and diagrams with informative captions. Students gain domain-specific and academic vocabulary about volcanoes and geography.
  • In Unit 4, students read Lunch Money by Andrew Clements. This is an engaging text and is high quality due to its relatable theme of friendship, strong vocabulary, and captivating plot.
  • In Unit 4, students read Using Money by Gail Fay. This is an informational text in which students learn about banking, credit cards, and budgeting. This text contains information about how money is obtained, spent, and saved.

Indicator 1b

Materials reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level.
4/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the expectations for materials reflecting the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards.

Texts include a mix of informational and literary texts. There is a wide array of informational and literary text integrated throughout every module. Additional supplementary texts are included, resulting in a wide distribution of genres and text types as required by the standards, including biography, folktale, historical fiction, narrative nonfiction, mythology, poetry, tall tale, realistic fiction, and informational.

The following are examples of literature found within the instructional materials:

  • Unit 1, Lesson: What’s Wrong with the Porpoises?: Porpoises in Peril by Gwendolyn Hooks
  • Unit 1, Lesson: Mary Anning: The Girl Who Cracked Open the World: Mary Anning: The Girl Who Cracked Open the World by Debora Pearson
  • Unit 2, Lesson: The Story of How the Sea Became Salty: Why is the Sea Salty by Dot Meharry
  • Unit 2, Lesson: The Story of How the Sea Became Salty: The Lion’s Whiskers by Jan M. Mike
  • Unit 2, Lesson: John Henry and other Tall Tales: “John Henry” by Mary Pope Osborne
  • Unit 3, Lesson: Living Through an Earthquake: Quake! Disaster in San Francisco, 1906 by Gail Langer Karwoski
  • Unit 3, Lesson: Disaster Short Stories: “Earthshaker’s Bad Day” by Gaby Triana
  • Unit 3, Lesson: Disaster Short Stories: “The Monster Beneath the Sea” by Stacia Deutsch
  • Unit 4, Lesson: How Do Story Elements Connect in Lunch Money: Lunch Money by Andrew Clements
  • Unit 4, Lesson: Digging Deep into Character and Plot: Max Malone Makes a Million by Charlotte Herman
  • Unit 4, Lesson: It Will Poggle Your Mind: A Tale of Two Poggles by Margi McAllister

The following are examples of informational text found within the instructional materials:

  • Unit 1, Lesson: Thinking About Many Texts: “Fragile Frogs” in The Frog Scientist by Pamela S. Turner
  • Unit 1, Lesson: Getting Down to Bare Bones: Skeletons Inside and Out by Claire Daniel
  • Unit 1, Lesson: Using Texts to Be Experts: Movers and Shapers by Dr. Patricia MacNair
  • Unit 2, Lesson: Comparing Nations: Three Native Nations: Of the Woodlands, Plains, and Desert by John K. Manos
  • Unit 2, Lesson: Comparing Nations: Immigrants of Yesterday and Today by Mary Dismas
  • Unit 2, Lesson: Fiction and Fact: Northwest Coast People by Lois Markham
  • Unit 3, Lesson: Earthquakes: “Earthshakers Bad Day” by Gaby Triana
  • Unit 3, Lesson: Run! Volcanic Eruptions: Anatomy of a Volcanic Eruption by Amie Jane Leavitt
  • Unit 3, Lesson: Run! Volcanic Eruptions: Volcanoes by Lucy Floyd
  • Unit 4, Lesson: Everything About Money: Using Money by Gail Fay

Indicator 1c

Texts have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to their associated student task.
4/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for texts having the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to their associated student task.

Most anchor and supporting texts fall between the text complexity range for second and third grade. Examples of texts that support appropriate complexity include, but are not limited to, the following:

Unit 1

  • Science Squad: Porpoises in Peril by Gwendolyn Hooks, 850L: Literary text about a group of four researchers who solve a mystery about sick porpoises in Taiwan; explicit scientific clues accumulate until the mystery is solved. Chronological; written in past tense; told by omniscient narrator; chapters; time and place changes, includes science and geography terms.
  • Mary Anning: The Girl Who Cracked Open the World by Debora Pearson, 810L: Nonfiction narrative tied to scientific concepts and historic figures.
  • Skeletons Inside and Out by Claire Daniel, 740L: Informational text describing the difference between human and animal skeletons; students need to understand main ideas and supporting details; compare-and-contrast structure; includes text features of table of contents, introduction, chapters, sidebars, pictures, glossary, index; includes domain-specific vocabulary.
  • “Fragile Frog” from The Frog Scientist by Pamela S. Turner, 910L: Biological concepts organized using text features and structures common to articles.

Unit 2

  • Why the Sea is Salty by Dot Meharry, 720L: Literary text (legend) that explains how the ocean became salty. Text is written with a chronological structure. The text includes challenging action verbs, some figurative language and dialogue. Knowledge demands include understanding about salt and its uses; storms; mythological giants. While this Lexile falls below the grade level recommendation, the text is of value at this grade level.
  • The Longest Night by Jacqueline Guest, 780L: Literary text: A narrative about a Native American boy’s vision quest. Text structure is chronological with a first-person point of view and flashback. Complexity includes vocabulary and Native American terms; knowledge demands of understanding Native American customs and ceremonies.
  • Northwest Coast Peoples by Lois Markham, 960L: Informational text; article structure that heavily relies on captions and text boxes requiring students to synthesize information to comprehend and understand Native American culture.

Unit 3

  • Earthquakes by Seymour Simon, 1010L: Informational text exposing students to the causes and impacts of earthquakes and where they occur. Text is heavily illustrated with photos, maps and diagrams that aid text meaning.
  • Anatomy of a Volcanic Eruption by Amie Jane Leavitt, 890L: Informational text that contains a broad range of of information about volcanic eruptions. Text contains domain specific and academic vocabulary as well as photographs, diagrams, and drawings with informative captions.

Unit 4

  • Lunch Money by Andrew Clements, 840L: Fictional text
  • Coyote School News by Joan Sandin, 650L: Fictional text

Indicator 1d

Materials support students' increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year. (Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels appropriate for the grade band.)
2/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for materials supporting students’ increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year. (Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels appropriate for the grade band.)

Students frequently interact with texts, but there is not an observable decrease in scaffolds or increase in student responsibility which would indicate greater independence with skills as the year progresses. Rigor and complexity of texts often depends on the genre. While texts generally fall within appropriate text complexity grade level and stretch bands, support and scaffolds provided within the materials do not change or gradually decrease as the year progresses to ensure that students are supported to access and comprehend grade-level texts at the end of the year. Additionally, as the year progresses, opportunities are missed for questions and tasks to increase student’s ability to independently access more complex texts.

Examples of quality texts include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Unit 1, Lesson: What’s Wrong with Porpoises?, Part 1, students are asked to think about what problems the characters need to solve. The text structure is problem/solution and students complete a Web Graphic organizer to break down the problem in the story. Later in Part 1, students connect the work with problem/solution text structure to build understanding of how details built into their writing can inform readers and help keep their attention.
  • Unit 2, Lesson: Why is the Sea Salty, students read “The Lion’s Whiskers” from the Pearson leveled e-text library. They then write a paragraph about the theme of the story. This lesson is the first lesson of the year in which students are generating theme on a literary text.
  • In Unit 3, Lesson: Run! Volcanic Eruptions, Part 3, students read chapter 2 of “Fountains of Fire.” Students answer questions while reading the text to determine the key details.

Indicator 1e

Anchor texts and series of texts connected to them are accompanied by a text complexity analysis and rationale for purpose and placement in the grade level.
2/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria that anchor texts and series of texts connected to them are accompanied by a text complexity analysis and rationale for purpose and placement in the grade level.

In the platform’s Before You Begin materials, the publisher provides a description of several text selections. The materials state, “TEXT SELECTIONS: You can find more information about some texts you will read in your course in the text selection rationales. As you select texts to read independently, find books that have similar challenges to what you are reading, as well as finding books of different genres and topics. Use your Reading Log to create a balanced reading life!” The text selection rationales are provided through a linked document that includes each text title, author, text genre, student task and both quantitative and qualitative text features. The quantitative measure is provided through a Lexile score and the qualitative feature chart gives measures such as levels of meaning, structure, language conventionality and clarity, and knowledge demands.

A text complexity analysis is provided for the anchor texts in each unit. Most texts include instructional notes, text notes, and the rationale for the purpose and placement of the anchor and support texts is embedded into the student and teacher notes. The instructional notes include a recommendation for how students should read the text (e.g., silently and independently, listen to text, read aloud) and support students with vocabulary they will encounter in the text. At times, the teaching notes also indicate specific strengths in the texts. For example, some texts are chosen for their value in reinforcing literary techniques while others were chosen as appropriate introductions to a particular time period or topic. All texts were chosen with fourth grade students in mind, as well as intentional variability in genre, readability, and interest.

Instructional and text notes found in Grade 4 materials include information in the introduction box such as, “This document outlines the complexity of each anchor text as text complexity is defined in Appendix A of the Common Core State Standards, Figure 1. Quantitative complexity of the text is measured in Lexile Level for each text. Task complexity refers to how the text demands contextualized within a larger learning activity, often the unit project. Qualitative complexity descriptors, as identified by the Common Core, are listed in the table according to the factors of qualitative evaluation as listed in Appendix A. Across these three complexity domains, the reader will see that complexity monotonically increases across the course of the year.”

In Unit 1, students read Porpoises in Peril by Gwendolyn Hooks. The complexity information provided by the publisher includes the quantitative measure of Lexile 530L and the qualitative features of:

  • Levels of Meaning: A group of four researchers solve a mystery about sick porpoises in Taiwan; explicit scientific clues accumulate until the mystery is solved.
  • Structure Chronological; past tense; omniscient narrator; chapters; time and place changes
  • Language Conventionality and Clarity; Science and Geography terms
  • Knowledge Demands Understanding about porpoises, mining, snorkeling, and scuba diving; how researchers accumulate clues to solve mysteries

In Unit 2, students read Why the Sea is Salty, a literary text by Dot Meharry in order to write about the theme of the story. The complexity information provided by the publisher includes a quantitative measure of Lexile 720L and the qualitative features of:

  • Levels of Meaning: Legend set in the Philippines “long ago” that explains that the ocean is salty because of a village’s interaction with a friendly giant.
  • Structure: Chronological; written in past tense; chapters; setting changes; omniscient narrator.
  • Language Conventionality and Clarity: Challenging action verbs; some figurative language; dialogue.
  • Knowledge Demands: Understanding about salt and its uses; storms; mythological giants; ants.

In Unit 3, students read Anatomy of a Volcanic Eruption by Amie Jane Leavitt. The complexity information provided by the publisher includes a quantitative measure of Lexile 890L and the qualitative features of:

  • Levels of Meaning: Implicit overarching main idea; multiple explicit main ideas in sections; broad range of information about volcanic eruptions.
  • Structure Introduction: chapters; photographs, drawings, and diagrams with informative captions.
  • Language Conventionality and Clarity: Mostly simple and compound sentences; some complex sentences; domain-specific and academic vocabulary defined within text.
  • Knowledge Demands: Broad scientific knowledge; information about volcanoes; some geography.

In Unit 4, students read Lunch Money by Andrew Clements. The complexity information provided by the publisher includes a quantitative measure of Lexile 840L and the qualitative features of:

  • Levels of Meaning: Friendship; using ideas to create a business; use of analogy to explain themes
  • Structure: Lengthy chapter book; italics indicate characters’ thoughts
  • Language Conventionality and Clarity: Domain-specific words related to money and business; descriptive language; compound and complex sentences.
  • Knowledge Demands: Starting a new enterprise; school staff roles; how to work with peers and authority figures to accomplish goals.

Indicator 1f

Anchor text(s), including support materials, provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to achieve grade level reading.
2/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria that anchor and supporting texts provide opportunities for students to engage in a broad range of text types and disciplines as well as a volume of reading to achieve grade level reading proficiency.

Students interact with several texts in each unit within the PLUS framework of Project, Learn, Use, and Show. Stories read and reread in lessons are underlined and hyperlinked. Learners can independently read text or enable the audio read-aloud capability by clicking on the hippo icon. Students are provided opportunities to read paired texts in Sleuth that provide information on a range of topics. Materials also include leveled readers.

Students also read independently selected texts outside of the course materials. Students keep a Reading Log during the course. They are asked to read at least two to three books per week in addition to the books in the ELA course. Students are asked to keep their Reading Log up to date all year long and it is also referred to in some of the lessons. To find books, students can refer to a document called Independent Reading Resources, or visit their local library.

  • In Unit 1, TV’s Newest Reporter!, students read informational texts from the Text Collection including: Porpoises in Peril, The Gray Whale, The Long Journey West, Mary Anning: The Girl Who Cracked Open the World and “Fragile Frogs,” Skeletons: Inside and Out, and The Rosetta Stone: The Key to Ancient Writings.
  • In Unit 2, Legends and Tall Tales, students read various fiction texts, including tall tales, and informational texts in order to understand and learn how culture interacts with and interprets nature and to learn how a culture understood the world.
  • In Unit 3, Now Hear Me Out…, students read a variety of text types related to natural disasters including informational texts and short stories.

Criterion 1g - 1n

Materials provide opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills.
11/16
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-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for providing opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills. Materials meet expectations that most questions, tasks, and assignments are text-based, requiring students to engage with the text directly. Materials partially met the expectation that materials contain sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent questions and tasks build to a culminating task that integrates skills. Materials do not provide opportunities for discussion that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and partially supports student listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching. Materials meet the criteria for providing opportunities for different genres and modes of writing. Students have opportunities for evidence-based writing.  Materials partially meet the expectations for materials including explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards for the grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context.

Indicator 1g

Most questions, tasks, and assignments are text-dependent, requiring students to engage with the text directly (drawing on textual evidence to support both what is explicit as well as valid inferences from the text).
2/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the expectations that most questions, tasks, and assignments are text dependent/specific, requiring students to engage with the text directly (drawing on textual evidence to support both what is explicit as well as valid inferences from the text).

The materials include question series that are connected to each text selection. Materials for lessons and lesson parts include guiding questions, journal topics, and graphic organizers that require students to engage in or refer back to the text. Students engage with each text directly by writing in an English Language Arts Journal and using textual evidence to support answers. Although questions and tasks are mainly text-dependent, many are surface level and do not ask students to analyze the text.

Examples of text-based questions, assignments, and tasks include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Unit 3, Lesson: A Tsunami Unfolds, Parts 1-7, students answer questions over several daily sessions connected to A Tsunami Unfolds, including the following questions:
    • “What details do the authors include to show early warning signs that an earthquake was going to happen?”
    • “How do the details in the photos on pages 4–5 help improve the reader’s understanding of the earthquake?”
    • “The text has text boxes that provide special information. Which of these relates the first-hand experiences or reactions of people? Which ones provide background information?”
    • “How does the author use a problem-and-solution structure to inform readers about the tsunami?”
    • “How does the glossary on page 32 help you understand scientific terms used in this text?
    • “What causes a tsunami?
    • “What are the effects of a tsunami?”
    • “How would you describe the differences in focus and information provided in the descriptions of specific disaster events in both sources?”
    • “Both texts explain a particular type of disaster. What is the basic difference in how these explanations are used?”
  • In Unit 4, Lesson: News from Coyote School, Parts 1-5, students answer questions over several daily sessions from the poem ”Gold” and “Coyote School News,” including the following questions:
    • “Describe the setting of ‘Gold.’ What animals, colors, land, and weather are described?”
    • “How is the setting for’ Coyote School News’ like the setting for ‘Gold?’
    • “What details in the story help you describe the Ramirez family?”
    • “What problem does Monchi experience, and how does he react to it?”
    • “What problem does Miss Byers face at the end of the story?”
    • “What details help establish the settings in ‘Lunch Money’ and ‘Coyote School News?’”
    • “What three ‘swell ideas’ does Miss Byers have?”
    • “ What are Greg’s ideas about?”
    • “Who benefits from the ideas that both characters have? What does that tell you about Miss Byers and Greg?"

Indicator 1h

Sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent questions and tasks build to a culminating task that integrates skills (may be writing, speaking, or a combination).
1/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for having sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent/specific questions and tasks build to a culminating task that integrates skills (may be writing, speaking, or a combination).

Materials contain sets of text-dependent questions and activities which Learning Guides can utilize to support students with culminating tasks. While text-dependent questions are included, many text-dependent questions are surface level and do not build towards completion of the culminating task. Some units include a culminating unit task called a project that requires students to gather details or information to write a specific genre of writing at the end of the unit while other units include a writing task.

Evidence includes, but is not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, Project: TV’s Newest Reporter, students select one of the problem options (climate change and its impact on the activities people do in summer and winter, destruction of the rainforest, and the impact of recycling on the environment) and develop a research question to investigate. Students research, plan, draft, write, edit, and revise an investigative news report that must include: information based on research from reliable sources, a well-organized report that includes details, precise language and vocabulary, clear and effective visuals, and a delivery of the news report that has expression, eye contact, and is engaging. Throughout the unit, students read nonfiction and fiction texts (Porpoises in Peril, Mary Anning: The Girl Who Cracked Open the World, Fragile Frogs, Skeletons: Inside and Out, and Movers and Shapers) based on themes of nature and biology. Students answer questions throughout the unit such as: "What problem do the characters need to solve, What details in the story—including pictures—help me identify this problem? What problem do the characters need to solve? What details in the story—including pictures—help me identify this problem?"
  • In Unit 3, Project: Now Hear Me Out, students write an opinion-editorial on one of the following topics: "Should our community help people who are affected by a natural disaster?, At what age should students be allowed to have social media accounts?, or How much time should students spend on tablets and smartphones?" Throughout the unit, students read texts in order to learn about natural disasters, such as: Anatomy of a Volcanic Eruption, A Tsunami Unfolds, Earthquakes, Quake! Disaster in San Francisco, 1906, and Earthshaker’s Bad Day. Throughout the unit, students also answer text-dependent questions such as: "What details show that lava is extremely hot? What details are used to show how the eruption affected people’s lives? What descriptive details helped you understand the force of Krakatau’s eruption? What details provided the after-effects of the Mt. Vesuvius eruption in A.D. 79?"

Indicator 1i

Materials provide frequent opportunities and protocols for evidencebased discussions that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. (May be small group and all-class.)
0/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 do not meet the criteria for materials providing frequent opportunities and protocols for evidence-based discussions (small groups, peer-to-peer, whole class) that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax.

The materials provide occasional opportunities for students to share with small groups or peers online, but these opportunities are inconsistent. Although, each lesson/lesson part refers students to “discuss with their Learning Guide,” there is limited instruction to support students’ mastering of listening and speaking skills. Discussions focus on students’ experience with a topic or reading skill, but use of academic vocabulary and syntax is implied, not specified. Students frequently discuss their learning with the Learning Guide individually. Teachers are only provided direction on the answers to the questions; protocols for these discussions are not included. Frequently, there are no directions for the Learning Guide to assist in prompting students to support statements with evidence or use academic vocabulary or syntax during their discussions. Examples of included speaking and listening opportunities and protocols include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In the Before You Begin section, under Discussions, there is a link for speaking and listening resources. The speaking and listening resource includes a speaking guide, listening guide, and discussion techniques.

Examples under “discussion protocols” include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • "Have a one-to-one discussion with your student in which he or she explains his or her thinking while you ask probing questions
  • Your student can explain learning and concepts to someone who is not involved with his or her schoolwork, such as a sibling, relative, or friend."

Under the Speaking Guide section, sentence stems are provided. Examples of quality texts include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • "I agree/disagree with you when you said…
  • This evidence from the text made me think…"
  • The Scope and Sequence states that opportunities for collaboration might include:
    • Students suggesting the lessons they learned and the event that helped them learn it to other students in order to get feedback or confirmation.
    • Students contributing to a “life lessons” page that contains important life lessons from multiple contributors. Students can draw from this page for ideas.

Indicator 1j

Materials support students' listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities) with relevant follow-up questions and supports.
1/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for materials supporting students’ listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities) with relevant follow-up questions and supports.

Students have opportunities in each lesson to share with the Learning Guide answers to questions, graphic organizers, and written pieces. A speaking and listening guide is available that provides the criteria for speaking and listening and suggestions for the Learning Guide. However, these suggestions are not directly linked, referenced, or modeled during lessons/lesson parts.

The materials contain some activities for students to engage in speaking and listening activities but do not provide many opportunities for follow-up questions, supports, or appropriate feedback from the Learning Guide. Questioning opportunities are provided between the student and Learning Guide, but do not provide opportunities for students to engage in peer conversations to develop answers unless there is more than one student together during the lesson. Additionally, there are few opportunities for students to build presentation skills.

  • In Unit 2, Lesson: John Henry and Other Tall Tales, Part 2, students complete a Web Graphic Organizer to understand why John Henry is challenging the steam drill. Students look at the dialogue of the character John Henry and the supporting characters in the text, John Henry. Students use the dialogue in order to answer the question: “What do their words tell you about why John Henry agrees to the contest?" Students then find details and write them in the outside circles of the web. The teaching notes provide the Learning Guide with an example of what the completed Web Graphic Organizer should look like. Students are then directed to their Reading Log. Students are told to think about how the actions of John Henry are unbelievable. Students are asked to think about the characters in the books they read, “Do you think they act in believable ways? Why or why not?" Students are reminded to write the titles of the books they read in the reading log. In the teaching notes, the Learning Guide is directed, “Ask your students to take out the Reading Log and share the books he or she has read independently. Encourage him or her to talk about the characters. Ask your students how the author makes a character believable.”
  • In Unit 3, Lesson: Studying Volcanoes, Parts 1-7, students read Anatomy of a Volcano and discuss the following questions with the Learning Guide: “What descriptive details helped you understand the force of Krakatau’s eruption? What details provided the after-effects of the Mt. Vesuvius eruption in A.D. 79?” Students then fill in a Descriptive Details Chart and complete the following task to practice when writing the Op-Ed: “Students will write a draft about what life is like living in the shadow of a volcano. The student’s task is to fully develop the topic. Developing a topic means explaining a topic fully so readers understand it. To explain a topic, students need to present facts, definitions, and concrete details about it. Students can also use quotations to help develop the topic in an interesting way. Use pages 44–45 as the main source of information. Supplement this information by drawing on other examples in the text.”
  • In Unit 4, Lesson: Story Elements Lunch Money, Part 5, students read Chapters 12-14 of the text Lunch Money. As students read, they are to think about the question: "What are the four most essential points of the plot in these chapters?" Students respond to the question in the ELA Journal and then are directed to “talk about them with your Learning Guide.” The teaching notes for the Learning Guide contain the details from the text that students should include in their response.

Indicator 1k

Materials include a mix of on-demand and process writing (e.g. multiple drafts, revisions over time) and short, focused projects, incorporating digital resources where appropriate.
2/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for materials including a mix of on-demand and process writing (e.g. multiple drafts, revisions over time) and short, focused projects, incorporating digital resources where appropriate.

Students have frequent opportunities for on-demand and process writing, as well as short, focused projects completed through a variety of instructional tasks. Students write drafts for process pieces over several days, with time and guidance in revising and editing their writing. Students publish their work for various audiences using digital resources and technology. The teacher guide provides explicit instruction and modeling throughout the writing process. Students analyze examples of high quality writing from the texts they read. Writing lessons embedded in each unit are based on the texts students are reading. On-demand writing occurs as students respond to reading in various formats. Materials include both short and longer writing tasks and projects, which are aligned to the grade-level standards being reviewed. Writing tasks include longer projects, short constructed response, writing in English Language Arts journals, and completing graphic organizers.

Opportunities for on-demand writing include, but are not limited to:

  • Unit 2, Lesson: How the Sea Became Salty, Part 1, students write an opening paragraph for their own narrative. Students refer to chapters 1 and 2 from the text Why the Sea is Salty to see a model of how a narrator tells events in a natural sequence. Students are directed to think about the guiding questions: “Where and when will my story take place? Who are the characters? What is the plot, or sequence of events?” to help develop their opening paragraph.
  • Unit 2, Lesson: Comparing Nations, Part 1, students write a summary about the Haudenosaunee from the text Three Native Nations of the Woodlands, Plains, and Desert. Students use the main idea and details that they identified in the text to write the summary. Students must also include an opinion about the Haudenosaunee people and their opinion on why the women of the Ohwacira choose clan leaders for the clans. Students are required to include text evidence to support both the summary and opinion.
  • In Unit 3, Lesson: A Tsunami Unfolds, Part 1, students read several discussions of the effect that nature can have on the land and on people. Students use some of what they have learned to write two informational paragraphs. Students use details to support a main idea. Their paragraphs should explain how forces of nature such as volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis affect the land. Students will use the texts read thus far in this unit as sources of details. Their writing should include these elements: two paragraphs of informational text, an opening sentence that states the main idea about how forces of nature affect the land, multiple sentences that provide many examples (at least one from each text read so far), accurate quotations (including text name and page number), and writing free of errors in capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and grammar. Students write the two paragraphs in their English Language Arts Journal and share them with their Learning Guide.
  • In Unit 3, Lesson: Living Through an Earthquake, Part 1, students practiced making inferences and make text-dependent inferences in a writing activity. Students write an opinion paragraph about how the character, Jacob, feels about his dog based on information up through page 6 of Quake! Disaster in San Francisco, 1906. Students are instructed to prepare by taking notes on what Jacob thinks, says, and does related to the dog. In their English Language Arts journal, students are instructed to state their opinion clearly, provide reasons for their opinion, and give evidence from the text that supports those reasons. A concluding sentence should restate their opinion and reasons.
  • In Unit 4, Lesson: Money Talks, What Goes Into a Narrative, Part 3, students are reminded, “Whether using strong or unusual word associations, figurative language comparisons, or words that appeal to the five senses, good word choice adds meaning. In your next assignment, you will practice making good word choices while writing a narrative about two characters who compete to sell a similar product, like Maura and Greg. The draft only needs to be one or two paragraphs long. Start with a brainstorm to determine your characters, product, and setting. Come up with at least one interesting word choice, figurative language, or sensory detail that applies to each of your two characters and the product. Ask yourself: What do I see? Hear? Feel? Smell? Taste? How are my characters more than salespeople? What can they—and their product—be compared to?”
  • In Unit 6, Lesson: Meeting Rosa Parks, Part 6, students are asked to write an opinion paragraph identifying the central message of the text, making sure to provide their thinking behind the opinion. They are also asked to provide text evidence supporting their reasoning. Students are reminded, “Organize your paragraph before you write: state your opinion, explain your reasons, add text evidence, and close with a statement.”

Opportunities for process writing include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, Project: TV’s Newest Reporter, students research a topic and write a news report. Students begin by choosing from the following topics: climate change and its impact on the activities people do in summer and winter; destruction of the rain forest, causing some plants and animals to go extinct; the impact of recycling on the environment, such as keeping trash out of local bodies of water or the oceans. During the writing process, students develop a research question to narrow the topic, gather information to answer their research question, and then plan, draft, revise and edit their report. Students must include a visual to support the information in the report, and finally, deliver their news report. Requirements include: using at least five relevant, reliable sources, writing a well-organized report with a strong beginning, a well-developed body, and a strong conclusion with clear explanation of scientific concepts and many details. Evidence of revision and editing ensures that the report is effectively organized, uses precise language and domain-specific vocabulary, and is free of errors. Students must also include one clear and effective visual that supports the information in the report. Students are instructed to deliver the report by speaking clearly, with expression, eye contact with the audience, and loud enough to be heard.
  • In Unit 3, Lesson: Studying Volcanoes, Part 3, students practice identifying key details, including descriptive details that refer to the five senses. Students write a draft about what life is like living in the shadow of a volcano. Students are tasked with fully developing the topic using present facts, definitions, and concrete details. Students are expected to include: a clearly stated topic sentence about what it’s like to live in the shadow of a volcano and one or two paragraphs providing details on the topic. The details can include facts, definitions, examples, and quotations. Every detail should relate directly to the topic sentence, an organization that groups those details in an effective way, be free of errors in capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and grammar.
  • In Unit 3, Lesson: Disaster Short Stories, Part 1, students use the two paragraphs in which two texts, Quake! and Earthquakes were compared and contrasted to write a conclusion paragraph. Students are tasked with writing a strong closing paragraph to conclude what has already been written. Students will use the following questions to help keep writing on track: “How can I summarize or restate my opinion using different words? How can I revise and delete information to strengthen my conclusion? How can I leave a strong impression on my reader? What 'clincher' will make an impression on the reader?”
  • Unit 4, Lesson: Everything about Money, Part 1-5, students write an opinion essay in response to the question: “Which money system is better, the modern money system or ancient systems of bartering?" Students use the text from the lesson as information that can support their opinion. Within each lesson part, students are working on a part of the opinion essay. Each part of the essay directly relates to the work students are doing with the text during direct reading instruction and practice. For the opinion essay, students need to include an opinion statement that includes at least two or three reasons for the opinion with each reason supported with details from the text. Students should also include a strong introduction that directly states the opinion that engages the reader and a strong conclusion that restates the main argument and summarizes the reasons for their opinion.

Indicator 1l

Materials provide opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the expectations for providing opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards.

Students have frequent opportunities to write in multiple modes and genres of writing over the course of the school year. Writing projects, prompts, and short constructed response tasks are balanced among narrative, informative and opinion writing. Each unit includes a writing type which connects to the texts students are reading. Texts from various genres serve as models that students are asked to emulate in their writing. Each lesson part includes support in building specific skills within the focused writing genre. Modeling and guiding questions have students apply craft elements in their writing.

Examples of writing prompts that address the different text types of writing and reflect the distribution required by the standards include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Unit 1, Lesson: TV’s Newest Reporter, Project, Informative/Explanatory, students research, write, revise, and deliver a news report on an environmental issue by taking the role of an investigative journalist for a TV news show. Over the course of the unit, students also practice informational writing skills through various journal entries and paragraph writing exercises. Students research, write a report for a news segment, create visuals needed to support the report, and then video the segment.
  • In Unit 2, Lesson: A Tall Tale of the Old West, Part 2, Narrative, students write two descriptive paragraphs to tell a story that has two characters interacting with each other. Students use the character Pecos Bill and one of the cowpokes in their descriptive paragraphs. Students must write in the style of Pecos Bill and model their writing in a way that shows dialogue in the manner in which the characters would speak. The dialogue should include the use of exaggerated and humorous language that shows what the characters are doing and how they are feeling. Students must use the dialogue in a new situation that is not already present in the story.
  • In Unit 2, Lesson: How the Stars Fell into Sky, Part 1, Narrative, students read the beginning of How the Stars Fell into the Sky and met two characters First Woman and First Man. While reading, students learned more about the characters by looking closely at the way they speak, think, and act. Students use this work and understanding to develop characters in a narrative writing piece. Students write two paragraphs that introduce the characters and answer the questions: “Who are the characters? What do they look like? What do they say, think, feel, and do?” Students also develop examples of dialogue between the characters and that show their personality.
  • In Unit 3, Lesson: Now hear me out…, Opinion, students research one of three topics and write an opinion editorial piece. Students practice elements of opinion writing throughout the unit through various opinion writing exercises. Students learn the importance of providing evidence as support and how to explain thoughts to support an opinion. Throughout the unit, students will use the English Language Arts Journal to record analysis of texts, responses to questions, graphic organizers, and notes that will be used to complete the project.
  • In Unit 4, Lesson: How Do Story Elements Connect in Lunch Money?, Part 2, Narrative, students write a new scene to their narrative story. The scene focuses on characters facing a challenge. Students first determine the point of view that they are writing in (First Person or Third Person). Students then develop an outline to establish the challenge the characters will face and the events that will happen. After creating the outline, students use the outline to write two or three narrative paragraphs.
  • In Unit 4, Lesson: Digging Deeper into Character and Plot, Part 2, Narrative, students practice writing a narrative ending by writing an ending for the text. Students rely on their past learning of details in a text to imagine how a story might end. Students must think about what they believe will happen next in the story. In order to write an ending for the text, students will select a detail/event that occured in the story to expand upon. Students add new details about what might happen next and what characters might learn. After drafting the new ending for the story, Max Malone Makes a Million, students reread the new ending to check and make sure it makes sense for the details, events are described in sequence, and the writing has correct conventions.

Indicator 1m

Materials include frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for materials including frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information appropriate for the grade level.

Each day students carefully analyze and synthesize texts, write to sources, use texts as a source, and defend claims as part of writing instruction. They respond to text-dependent questions to understand texts more deeply, and use texts as a source of information and to support their opinions. Student responses to English Language Arts Journal questions provide students with frequent opportunities to gather and use evidence from the text to support their responses. There are many provided writing opportunities that are focused around students’ analyses and claims developed from reading closely and working with texts and sources to provide supporting evidence. The materials provide opportunities that build students' writing skills over the course of the school year. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Unit 1, Lesson: Mary Anning: The Girl Who Cracked Open the World, Part 1, students are becoming acquainted with Mary, the subject of the biography. They respond to the following questions: “How would you describe Mary? What details from the text support your description? What is Mary’s relationship with her father? What details support this? What do you learn about Mary from what others in town think about her?”
  • In Unit 1, Lesson: Getting Down to Bare Bones, Part 4, students look closely at the purpose of visuals and the value of visuals more closely. They review pages 15–16 of Skeletons Inside and Out, paying close attention to the illustrations and diagrams. They respond to the following question: “According to details from the text and illustrations, how do the skeletons of birds and bats help them to fly? What do you learn when you compare and contrast the diagram of the bird skeleton and the diagram of the bat skeleton? Point out specific parts of the diagrams that support your answer.”
  • In Unit 2, Lesson: How the Stars Fell into Sky, Part 1, students use a T-Chart graphic organizer to look at the structure of the story. Students analyze the problems and solutions to better understand the characters and their actions. Students complete the problem/solution graphic organizer by identifying “First Woman’s” problem and finding the solution. Students receive support from the teacher guide and the following guiding questions: “What does she want people to see? Read page 76 again. How does First Man want to solve it? How, read page 78 and look for another problem.”
  • In Unit 2, Lesson: A Tall Tale of the Old West, Part 1, students write a paragraph about a character from a legend or fairy tale. Students can choose to use the character Pecos Bill from the text they are reading, or choose a different character they are familiar with. Students use sensory details to help the reader imagine what the character experiences. Students use the following guiding questions: "What does the character see? Use words that describe color, size, or shape. What does he or she hear? Use words that describe sound and volume. What does he or she feel? Use words that describe texture or temperature. What does he or she smell? Use words that describe scents. What does he or she taste? Use words that describe flavors." Students write draft paragraphs into the English Language Arts Journal, attempting to include as many senses as they can.
  • In Unit 3, Lesson: A Tsunami Unfolds, Part 5, students compare and contrast the author’s word choice from segments from two texts, Anatomy of a Volcanic Eruption and A Tsunami Unfolds,“Did You Know? Students respond to the following questions: "What science terms does the author of Anatomy of a Volcanic Eruption use? What words does the author use to describe the location of the Ring of Fire? What science terms does the author of Tsunami use? What words does that author use to describe the location of the Ring of Fire on page 5?" Students are asked to compare and contrast the authors' word choice, specifically answering the following question: “What do you think the word choice suggest about each authors' purpose?”
  • In Unit 3, Lesson: Earthquakes, Part 5, students write a paragraph stating a clear opinion about living in earthquake-prone areas. Students support the opinion with facts and examples from the text making sure to group reasons and evidence in a clear way using linking words and phrases to show how they are connected.
  • In Unit 4, Lesson: Story Elements Lunch, Part 2, students read chapter 4-6 in the text Lunch Money. Students examine the pictures that an author includes to help create interest in the text. Students respond in their ELA journal to the following questions: “What do drawings on page 30-32 show? What do they tell you about Greg’s character? What do you learn about Greg and Maura from the drawing on page 43? What do you think will happen next?”
  • In Unit 4, Lesson: Big Ideas about Using Money, Part 4, students use the text Using Money, pages 42-45 and page 48 to summarize the important details. First, students complete a Web Graphic Organizer to collect the details from the text that will be used in the summary. Students identify the main idea and supporting details that summarize the text.
  • In Unit 4, Lesson: It Will Poggle Your Mind, Part 3, students analyze how details and the actions of characters contribute to theme. Students retell what happened so far in the text and respond in ELA journals to the following questions: “What theme do you think is suggested by the title, Fun at the Factory? What are some key details that contribute to this theme? Refer to details about the characters, the factory setting, and the events from the chapter.”

Indicator 1n

Materials include explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context.
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for materials including explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context.

Materials include instruction in most of the grammar and conventions standards for the grade level. However, opportunities are missed for students to choose words and phrases to convey ideas precisely or to differentiate between contexts that call for formal English and situations where informal discourse is appropriate. Additionally, opportunities are missed for students to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence, spell grade-appropriate words correctly, and differentiate between contexts that call for formal English and situations where informal discourse is appropriate.

Materials include limited instruction of most grammar and conventions standards for the grade level. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Students have opportunities to use relative pronouns and relative adverbs. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • In Unit 1, Lesson: What’s Wrong with the Porpoises?, Part 4, students learn about relative pronouns. The materials include an explanation of their use and examples of relative pronouns used in given sentences. Students are then directed to look for two uses of relative pronouns on pages 15–18, identify the relative pronoun, adjective clause, and noun being described and to use what they know about relative pronouns when they write.
  • Students have opportunities to form and use the progressive verb tenses. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • In Unit 1, Lesson: Understanding the Structure of Porpoises in Peril, Part 4, students learn the purpose of the progressive verb tense and are given the following examples:
      • "Past progressive: The water became cleaner now that the mining sediment was settling on the seabed.
      • Present progressive: The water is cleaner, now that the mining sediment is settling on the seabed.
      • Future progressive: The water will be cleaner, since the mining sediment will be settling on the seabed."
  • Students have opportunities to use modal auxiliaries to convey various conditions. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • In Unit 1, Lesson: Thinking About Many Texts, Part 3, students learn that the helping verbs: can, may, and must are all modal auxiliaries. Students learn their function and learn how modal auxiliaries work.
  • Students have opportunities to order adjectives within sentences according to conventional patterns. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • In Unit 3, Lesson: A Tsunami Unfolds, Part 2, students learn about how to order adjectives appropriately and are given examples:
      • Order by type: feeling or opinion, size, condition, age, shape, color, pattern, origin, material, purpose + noun. Example: She found a pretty, large, clean, new, round, red, spotted, French, steel, cooking pot.
      • Students are then asked to brainstorm a list of adjectives that can be used to describe nouns and write them in their ELA Journal. Students are to include at least one of each type and group the list by type. Students are then to write three sentences that use two or more adjectives of different types and put them in the correct order.
  • Students have opportunities to form and use prepositional phrases. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • In Unit 4, Lesson: Big Ideas about Using Money, Part 3, students learn the function of prepositional phrases and are provided a list of prepositions. Students watch the BrainPOP movie, Prepositional Phrases and practice with prepositions by editing an article, “The Apollo 8 Photograph.”
  • Students have opportunities to produce complete sentences, recognizing and correcting inappropriate fragments and run-ons. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • In Unit 4, Lesson: Digging Deeper into Character and Plot, Part 1, students learn about the difference between a complete sentence and a fragment and are given examples.
  • Students have opportunities to correctly use frequently confused words. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • In Unit 1, Lesson: Using Texts to Be Experts, Part 1, students are given examples of sentences that include frequently confused words and the materials explain the difference between the words being confused: their, there, they’re and to, too, and two. Students are then asked to write sentences using the words there, they’re, their, to, too, and two correctly.
  • Students have opportunities to use correct capitalization. For example:
    • In Unit 2, Lesson: Why Was It the Longest Night, Part 2, students are told that proper nouns and the first word of a sentence are to be capitalized. Examples are shared from the text. Students look at page 10 of the text and write the proper nouns they see. Students then point out the beginning word of each sentence to their Learning Guide, noting that it is capitalized.
  • Students have opportunities to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • In Unit 2, Lesson: Fiction and Fact, Part 3, students learn the function of coordinating conjunctions like and, but, yet, for, and so are used to connect two clauses in a compound sentence.
  • Students have limited opportunities to spell grade-appropriate words correctly, consulting references as needed. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • In Unit 1, Lesson: Getting Down to the Bare Bones, Part 2, students learn about the meaning of the suffixes -ist, -ive, and -ness. Examples are given: “a tourist is a person who tours, or travels. A defensive move defends from something. Darkness is the state of being dark.” The students are told that with each of these suffixes, changing the spelling of the base word is sometimes necessary and that they should use the following guidelines:
      • "If a base word ends with a silent e, drop the e before -ist or -ive: style becomes stylist.
      • If a base word ends with a consonant and a y, change the y to an i before -ist, -ive, or -ness: happy becomes happiness.
      • Some base words may change or drop other letters before -ist or -ive: persuade becomes persuasive. When in doubt, check a dictionary!"
  • Students have opportunities to choose words and phrases to convey ideas precisely. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • In Unit 1, Lesson: Understanding the Structure of Porpoises in Peril, Part 3, the materials state, “You’ve already seen what a difference word choice can make. Word choice can help an author describe the characters, events, and settings of a story. Good writers choose their words carefully, so they can express exactly what they mean."
    • In Unit 1, Lesson: Thinking About Many Texts, Part 3, the materials state, “Now that you can examine word choice in one text, try two! Use this online Venn diagram to compare the choice of descriptive words in pp. 4–10 of Mary Anning and pp. 5–8 of 'Fragile Frogs.' In the left circle, give at least two examples of powerful word choices and the reasons behind them in Mary Anning. Remember, the author’s purpose in Mary Anning is to discuss the life of an extraordinary scientist and help readers learn about her important contributions to the field of paleontology. The author’s word choices should help the reader imagine what Mary was like."

Materials include opportunities for students to demonstrate application of skills both in- and out-of-context. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Unit 4, Lesson: It Will Poggle Your Mind, Part 2, students learn that modal auxiliaries are helping verbs and that helping verbs work with main verbs. Examples of modal auxiliaries are shared: will, shall, may, might, can, could, ought to, should, would, used to, and need. Students practice identifying modal auxiliaries using the web activity Modal Verb Search.

Criterion 1o - 1q

Materials in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language targeted to support foundational reading development are aligned to the standards.
3/6
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for materials, questions, and tasks address grade-level CCSS for foundational skills by providing explicit instruction and assessment in phonics and word recognition that demonstrate a research-based progression. Materials partially meet the criteria for materials, lessons, and questions provide instruction in and practice of word analysis skills in a research-based progression in connected text and tasks.  Materials partially meet the criteria for instructional opportunities are frequently built into the materials for students to practice and achieve reading fluency in oral and silent reading, that is, to read on-level prose and poetry with accuracy, rate appropriate to the text, and expression.

Indicator 1o

Materials, questions, and tasks address grade-level CCSS for foundational skills by providing explicit instruction and assessment in phonics and word recognition that demonstrate a research-based progression.
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for materials, questions, and tasks address grade-level CCSS for foundational skills by providing explicit instruction and assessment in phonics and word recognition that demonstrate a research-based progression.

Materials provide instruction of irregularly spelled words, syllabication patterns, and word recognition consistently over the course of the year and instruction of word solving approaches (e.g., graphophonic and syntactic) to decode unfamiliar words. However, students are provided limited opportunities to apply the skills with guided practice or to demonstrate proficient use of the skills. There is some indirect assessment through the use of rubrics that include spelling. However, opportunities are missed to explicitly assess the word analysis skill within decoding or encoding words with roots and affixes. Additionally, materials lack explicit instruction of word solving approaches (e.g., graphophonic and syntactic) to decode unfamiliar words.

Materials contain limited explicit instruction of irregularly spelled words, syllabication patterns, and word recognition consistently over the course of the year. Examples of quality texts include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Unit 1, Lesson: Getting Down to the Bare Bones, Part 2, students learn about the meaning of the suffixes -ist, -ive, and -ness. Examples are given: “A tourist is a person who tours, or travels. A defensive move defends from something. Darkness is the state of being dark.” The students are told that with each of these suffixes, changing the spelling of the base word is sometimes necessary and that they should use the following guidelines:
    • "If a base word ends with a silent e, drop the e before -ist or -ive: style becomes stylist.
    • If a base word ends with a consonant and a y, change the y to an i before -ist, -ive, or -ness: happy becomes happiness.
    • Some base words may change or drop other letters before -ist or -ive: persuade becomes persuasive. When in doubt, check a dictionary! Students are then asked to add -ist, -ive, or -ness to these words related to the reading: support, science, and weak and to write the new words in their ELA journal. Then, students are asked to write a sentence with each word for their Learning Guide."
  • In Unit 2, Lesson: The Story of How the Sea Became Salty, Part 1, students learn about the meaning and use of the Latin prefixes dis-, re-, and non-. The materials explain that the prefix is one or more syllables placed at the beginning of a base word to change its meaning. Students are directed to find base words within the text and to add prefixes to them to change their meaning and how that would change the ideas in the story.
  • In Unit 2, Lesson: Fiction and Fact, Part 1, students learn about and use the Latin roots scrib, scrip, and struct. Examples from the text are used: “The word description appears on p. 26 of Three Native Nations. Which Latin root appears in this word? What does the word mean? Use a dictionary to look it up. Now, look at these words using those related roots: manuscript, subscription, inscribe. What do you think they mean? Write the words and their meanings in your ELA Journal. Then, check the meanings you give them against a dictionary. Finally, use each word in a sentence.”
  • In Unit 3, Lesson: A Tsunami Unfolds, Part 4, students learn about and use the suffixes -ous, -able, and -ible. Examples are given to explain how these suffixes change the meaning of the word: “Adventure means an exciting activity. If you add -ous to make adventurous, the new word means 'willing to try new, exciting activities.' Believe means to accept as truth. If you add -able to make believable, the new word means 'able to be believed, or credible.' Flex means bend. If you add -ible to make flexible, the new word means “capable of bending without breaking.”

Limited assessment opportunities are provided over the course of the year to inform instructional adjustments of phonics and word recognition to help students make progress toward mastery. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Within the Teacher Notes for Unit 2, Lesson: Why was it the Longest Night?, Part 7, there is a link to a game “Pack up the Skills.” This game links to “Module A” of the game which has two “zones.” Zone 1 is a sorting game, where students sort words based on the meaning of the prefix or suffix in the word. Zone 2 addresses tackling unknown words. Students are presented with a sentence with the unknown word underlined. They need to select the meaning of the unknown word out of three choices with one or more choice being correct.

Materials lack explicit instruction of word solving approaches (e.g., graphophonic and syntactic) to decode unfamiliar words. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Unit 1, Lesson: What’s Wrong with the Porpoises?, Part 5, materials instruct students to look for context clues to help decode unfamiliar words. Materials state, “Look for explanations of hypothesize, peculiarly, reassuringly, and interview. Write each word and the clue you find on one side of an index card. On the other side, write what you think the word’s definition is. Then, check your definition with a dictionary.”
  • In Unit 3, Lesson: Run! Volcanic Eruptions, Part 2, materials state, “Great readers often read words they have not seen before. What can you do when you read a new word? Here are some things to try: Look closely at the word. Can you break it into parts? Look for clues on the page. A detail might help you figure out the word. Look in a dictionary.” Students are instructed to work with the word divergent (found within text), writing the word, breaking it into syllables, and looking for context clues to help to determine meaning. They then look the word up in the dictionary and are encouraged to use new words in their writing and conversations.

Indicator 1p

Materials, lessons, and questions provide instruction in and practice of word analysis skills in a research-based progression in connected text and tasks.
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for materials, lessons, and questions provide instruction in and practice of word analysis skills in a research-based progression in connected text and tasks.

Materials provide opportunities for the students to learn, practice, and apply word analysis skills in connected texts and tasks. Opportunities are missed for students to receive explicit instruction in word analysis skills and there is no apparent research-based progression. The built-in checks for understanding by the Learning Guide offer some informal assessment, but opportunities are missed for formal assessment in student application of word analysis skills.

Multiple and varied opportunities are provided over the course of the year in core materials for students to learn, practice, and apply word analysis skills in connected texts and tasks. Examples of quality texts include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Unit 2, Part 1, Lesson: The Story of How the Sea Became Salty, students learn about the meaning and use of the Latin prefixes dis-, re-, and non-. The materials explain that the prefix is one or more syllables placed at the beginning of a base word to change its meaning. Students are directed to find base words within the text and to add prefixes to them to change their meaning and how that would change the ideas in the story.
  • In Unit 2, Part 1, Lesson: Fiction and Fact, students learn about and use the Latin roots scrib, scrip, and struct. Examples from the text are used: “The word description appears on p. 26 of Three Native Nations. Which Latin root appears in this word? What does the word mean? Use a dictionary to look it up. Now, look at these words using those related roots: manuscript, subscription, inscribe. What do you think they mean? Write the words and their meanings in your ELA Journal. Then, check the meanings you give them against a dictionary. Finally, use each word in a sentence.”
  • In Unit 3, Part 4, Lesson: A Tsunami Unfolds, students learn about and use the suffixes -ous, -able, and -ible. Examples are given to explain how these suffixes change the meaning of the word: “Adventure means an exciting activity. If you add -ous to make adventurous, the new word means 'willing to try new, exciting activities.' Believe means to accept as truth. If you add -able to make believable, the new word means 'able to be believed, or credible.' Flex means bend. If you add -ible to make flexible, the new word means “capable of bending without breaking.” Students are then asked to find words that end in -ous, -able, and -ible in A Tsunami Unfolds and write the words and their definitions in your ELA Journal.
  • In Unit 4, Part 4, Lesson: What Goes into a Narrative?, materials state, “Look at the word permission on p. 172 of Lunch Money. Underline the suffix -ion. It was added to the verb permit. Notice that a spelling change took place when the suffix was added. What does the word permission mean? Write its definition in your ELA Journal. Look the word up in a dictionary to see if you were right. If not, fix the definition. Then, write the word in a sentence. Do the same with the words immerse, express, and introduce. Add -­ion to make a noun. Guess the definition of the new word. Look it up in the dictionary to check the meaning. Then, write a sentence using each word. Discuss your answers with your Learning Guide.”

Materials do not include word analysis assessments to monitor student learning of word analysis skills.

Indicator 1q

Instructional opportunities are frequently built into the materials for students to practice and achieve reading fluency in oral and silent reading, that is, to read on-level prose and poetry with accuracy, rate appropriate to the text, and expression.
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for instructional opportunities are frequently built into the materials for students to practice and achieve reading fluency in oral and silent reading, that is, to read on-level prose and poetry with accuracy, rate appropriate to the text, and expression.

Materials include opportunities in each unit and each sub-unit for students to read grade-level text for purpose and understanding. Materials include one opportunity for Teachers/Learning Guides to help students apply reading skills when encountering a challenging word. Opportunities are missed to provide Teachers/Learning Guides with assessments to determine students’ fluency.

Limited opportunities are provided over the course of the year in core materials for students to demonstrate sufficient accuracy and fluency in oral and silent reading.

  • Students have limited opportunities to read grade-level text with purpose and understanding. For example:
    • In Unit 1, Part 2, Lesson: Mary Anning: The Girl Who Cracked Open the World, students are directed to pay attention to the order of events and think about these questions: "What was the first thing that happened after Mary and her brother found parts of the skeleton? What happened after the ichthyosaur was put on display? How might Mary have reacted? What did Mary do after selling the ichthyosaur?"
    • In Unit 2, Part 3, Lesson: The Story of How the Sea Became Salty, students read the next two chapters of the story and think about the answers to these questions: "Who is telling the story? How are the boy’s and the giant’s reasons for working together similar and different?"
    • In Unit 4, Part 2, Lesson: How Do Story Elements Connect in Lunch Money?, students read grade-level text with purpose and understanding. Students analyze the characters and their actions using the details and descriptions in the story.

Materials provide limited support in reading of prose and poetry with attention to rate, accuracy, and expression, as well as direction for students to apply reading skills when productive struggle is necessary.

  • Students have limited opportunities to read grade-level prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings. For example:
    • In Unit 4, Part 1, Lesson: All the News from Coyote School, students are instructed to read the Poem “Gold” in the Text Collection, Unit 4, Poems. Teacher notes state, “While your student is reading, assess his or her fluency. Explain that prosody is the patterns of rhythm and sounds found most typically in poetry. Reading for prosody means using the rhythm of words and the punctuation of lines of poetry to guide the reader to find complete units of meaning. If there is no punctuation at the end of a line of poetry, the reader should continue reading without pause. Model reading for prosody using the first stanza of “Gold.”

Materials contain limited support in students’ fluency development of reading skills (e.g., self-correction of word recognition and/or for understanding, focus on rereading) over the course of the year (to get to the end of the grade-level band).

  • Students use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, rereading as necessary. For example:
    • In Unit 1, Part 5, Lesson: What’s Wrong with the Porpoises?, students are taught about context clues. Students are instructed that context clues are pieces of information that explain other pieces of information, like unfamiliar words and that knowing how to use context clues can help them figure out words that are unfamiliar. Students then use context clues to look for explanations of hypothesize, peculiarly, reassuringly, and interview. Students write each word and the clue they found on one side of an index card. On the other side, students write what they think the word’s definition is. Then, they check the definition with a dictionary.

Assessment materials provide teachers and students with limited information of students’ current fluency skills and provide teachers with instructional adjustments to help students make progress toward mastery of fluency.

  • In Unit 1, Part 1, Lesson: What’s Wrong with the Porpoises?, the teacher notes state, “While your student is reading, assess his or her fluency. Explain that reading at an appropriate rate means reading at just the right speed—not too fast and not too slow. Model reading aloud p. 21, then ask your student to read aloud p. 22. By not rushing, he or she is less likely to miss an important context clue.”
  • In Unit 2, Part 1, Lesson: The Story of How the Sea Became Salty, the teacher notes state, “While your student is reading, assess his or her fluency. Explain that reading at an appropriate rate means reading at just the right speed—not too fast, not too slow. Reading at the proper speed keeps the listener interested. Have your student follow along as you model reading aloud from ‘Why the Sea Is Salty.’ Then, have your student read aloud a portion of Chapter 1 or 2 at an appropriate rate.”
  • In Unit 3, Part 1 Lesson: Run! Volcanic Eruptions, the teacher notes state, “While your student is reading, assess his or her fluency. Focus on how your student pronounces difficult words. Encourage him or her to break the word down into parts and help sound it out. Encourage your student to write the word in his or her ELA Journal along with the breakdown parts to remind him or her how the word is pronounced."

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Partially Meets Expectations

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Gateway Two Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the expectations for building students' knowledge and vocabulary to support and help grow students’ ability to comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently. Materials partially meet the criteria for texts are organized around a topic/topics to build students' ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently. Materials partially meet the criteria for materials contain a coherently sequenced set of text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across both individual and multiple texts and do not meet expectations that  questions and tasks support students' ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic. Materials support students' increasing writing skills over the course of the school year and include full support for students’ independent reading.


Criterion 2a - 2h

20/32

Indicator 2a

Texts are organized around a topic/topics (or, for grades 6-8, topics and/or themes) to build students' ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently.
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria that texts are organized around a topic/topics to build students knowledge and vocabulary which will over time support and help grow students’ ability to comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently.

The Grade 4 Language Arts curriculum materials are organized around a topic/topics or themes; Grade 4 materials consist of 4 units. The materials do not explicitly state how and why texts are organized within a unit, and what central idea or topic the texts are intended to support. For each unit, there are texts present that relate to the project or title of the unit; however, clear topics are not always present and there is not a clear indication of deep knowledge building that occurs throughout each unit. While there are areas where students are building knowledge of a specific topic, the teacher would have to supplement with additional texts or tasks in order to grow the student’s knowledge. While information from the texts help students successfully complete the unit projects, the way the text sets are organized may not always help students’ grow in their ability to independently and proficiently comprehend complex texts.

The texts within a unit are typically organized around a topic, but in some situations the texts do not relate to the given topic. Units that do not have a unit project do not have a guiding question or culminating task to help determine if the students are building knowledge on the given topic. The texts provided are not ample to help the students build knowledge and work towards reading complex text.

Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Unit 1, Lesson: What’s Wrong with the Porpoises?, Parts 3, students learn about point of view and are asked to answer the following questions in the ELA journal and discuss the answers with the learning guide: “How am I learning about the island and the people who live there? Who is the narrator telling me these things?” While these questions assist students in analyzing the text the texts throughout the lessons are somewhat disconnected and do not adequately develop a consistent topic.
  • In Unit 1, Lesson: Understanding the Structure of Porpoises in Peril, Parts 1-5, students are tasked with looking at text features, such as the illustration on page 44. Students are asked the following questions: “How does it help the student understand the setting and characters in this part of the story? What does the illustration on page 46 tell the student about the Science Squad’s reaction to Kate’s underwater journey? There are several detailed illustrations of the opal mine. Why are these images included?”
  • While the first two lessons in Unit 1, focus on the same story about the problems and solutions faced by scientists, the topic quickly changes to a biography titled Mary Anning: The Girl Who Cracked Open the World and an informational story titled Skeletons: Inside and Out. While these texts are complex and provide many tasks and opportunities for students to analyze the text, these texts don’t build on a topic in order to give students the opportunity to learn deeply about a specific topic.
  • In Unit 2, the topic is “Tall Tales.” In Lesson: A Tall Tale of the Old West, students learn about Pecos Bill by reading the text, Pecos Bill. Students answer questions such as: "Why does Pecos Bill leave the ranch in search of Hell’s Gate Gang? How does Pecos Bill end the drought? How big was the ranch that Pecos Bill helps put together? Could these things really happen?”
  • In Unit 2, Lesson: John Henry and Other Tall Tales, students read the text, John Henry and complete a Web Graphic Organizer to understand why John Henry is challenging the steam drill. Students look at the dialogue of the character John Henry and the supporting characters in the text, John Henry. Students use the dialogue in order to answer the question, “What do their words tell you about why John Henry agrees to the contest?" Students then find details and write them in the outside circles of the web. Students are told to think about how the actions of John Henry are unbelievable. Students are asked to think about the characters in the books they read, “Do you think they act in believable ways? Why or why not?"
  • In Unit 2, Lesson: Why was it the Longest Night, Lesson: Comparing Nations, and Lesson: Fiction and Fact has students building knowledge around the topic of Native Americans. It begins in Lesson: The Longest Night by reading a fiction text titled, The Longest Night. This story discuss a native boys journey during a vision quest. The text provides students with information about Native American culture and traditions. Students study the main character, Wind Runner and answer questions such as: “What character trait does Wind Runner reveal when he tells about his regalia and the incident with the dog? Who is Wind Runner? Describe what he looks like, the importance of his age, and his feelings about his people.” In Lesson: Comparing Nations, students read the text, Three Native Nations of the Woodlands, Plains, and Desert. In this nonfiction text, students will learn about three native peoples, how they lived in their regions, and how they worked together to form an alliance. Students answer questions such as: “What details tells you about the lives of the Sioux? How can you tell the Sioux were a determined people? Why was land important to buffalo hunters?” In the last lesson, Lesson: Fiction and Fact, students compare the information they learned about Native Americans from the previous two lessons and read an additional poem, titled “Ring Around the World.” Students are using the information to write an opinion piece about the most interesting two sections from the text, Three Native Nations of the Woodlands, Plains, and Desert.
  • In Unit 3, students read several texts about natural disasters and are tasked with writing an Op-Ed about an issue in which the student will issue a call to action. The unit utilizes many texts that discuss natural disasters that have occurred throughout the world. Students read about volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters. Throughout the reading students are given the opportunity to analyze the text.
    • For example, in Lesson: Run! Volcanic Eruptions, Part 3, students read and are tasked with answering the following questions: “What are the parts of a volcano? What are the three classes of volcanoes, and on what basis are volcanoes placed in one of these classes? Why do you think scientists classify volcanoes? What details in the text lead you to that conclusion? Based on these classifications, what kind of volcano do you think Eyjafjallajökul is? What are the different types of volcanoes? Which is the tallest? Which is the widest? How are geysers and fumaroles similar? How are they different?”
  • In Unit 3, Lesson: Disaster Short Stories, Parts 1-6, students read and analyze the plot, compare and contrast and summarize three texts Quake!, “Earthshaker’s Bad Day,” and “The Monster Beneath the Sea,” in order to get ready to write the Op-Ed. The evidence from the stories are recorded in a four-column chart. The deep analysis of these three texts gives students the opportunity to analyze and comprehend information about earthquakes and assist students in completing the Op-Ed requirement.
  • In Unit 4, Lesson: Everything You Wanted to Know About Money, Part 1-5, students are learning about different money systems. Their learning is centered around the question “Which money system is better, the modern money system or ancient systems of bartering?" Students read the text, Using Money. Students use the information in the text to write an opinion essay. Each part of the essay directly relates to the work students are doing with the text during direct reading instruction and practice. For the opinion essay, students need to include an opinion statement that includes at least two or three reasons for the opinion with each reason supported with details from the text. Students should also include a strong introduction that directly states the opinion that engages the reader and a strong conclusion that restates the main argument and summarizes the reasons for their opinion. In Lesson: Big Ideas About Using Money, students continue to use the text, Using Money and think about the questions: “Why are budgets so important? How do people use a budget to make decisions about wants?"

Indicator 2b

Materials contain sets of coherently sequenced questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria that materials contain sets of coherently sequenced questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts.

The materials are coherently sequenced, with lesson parts connecting with previous learning. There is clear articulation of how work with previous texts, tasks, and skills relates to new learning. The materials include questions and tasks with most texts requiring students to analyze language, key details, craft, and structure. Most lesson parts allow for in-depth analysis for some aspects of language, key details, craft, and structure. Most lessons include question types that help students build understanding, and integrate ideas and knowledge across several days. Students utilize graphic organizers and an English Language Arts journal to analyze the text. Questions are sequenced from basic to more text-based and varied in type. Many of these skills are developed through the instructional tasks included in the PLUS format (Project, Learn, Use, Show) for each unit. Each unit and/or part requires a different analysis of the language, structure, story elements, and craft, yet ample amount of practice is built into the program and cyclical planning ensures that concepts are introduced, taught, and then practiced at a higher level later in the unit or in another unit.

The following series of daily tasks and question sets exemplifies a coherent and connected sequence:

  • In Unit 1, Lesson: What’s Wrong with the Porpoises?, Part 1, students are asked to think about what problems the characters need to solve and answer the following question: “What details in the story, including pictures, help identify this problem?” The text structure of problem/solution is noted and students completed a Web Graphic organizer to break down the problem in the story. Later in Part 1, students connect the work with problem/solution text structure to build understanding of how details built into their writing can inform readers and help keep their attention. The materials state, “In reading Porpoises in Peril, you’ve noticed details that help explain the story. Some details told you about the characters, like animal-loving Reggie. Other details explained more about the problem. Noticing how authors present details will help you find effective ways of including details in your own writing.”
  • In Unit 1, Lesson: What's Wrong with the Porpoises?, Part 2, students use details to go deeper in their understanding of characters. Directions state, “Last time, you used details in Porpoises in Peril to learn about the problem the Science Squad has to solve. This time, you will use details to learn more about the characters. Good readers pay attention to details about characters so they fully understand why characters do and say the things they do. Look at what the characters say, what they think, and what they do. All of these details are clues about what a character is like and how he or she is affecting the story.” These coherently sequenced questions help build students’ understanding.
  • In Unit 2, Lesson: The Story of How the Sea Became Salty, Part 2, the materials state, “In the last part, you used text details from the story to describe the setting. In this part, you will use details and examples to talk about the text.”
  • In Unit 2, Lesson: The Story of How the Sea Became Salty, Part 3, the materials state, “In the last part, you used details and examples to talk about the text. In this session, you will use dialogue to compare and contrast points of view in the story.”
  • In Unit 2, Lesson: The Story of How the Sea Became Salty, Part 5, the materials state, “In the last part, you found the theme of Why the Sea is Salty. Now, you’re going to read a story called The Lion’s Whiskers. You will write about the theme of the story.”

Evidence of the analysis of language, key ideas and details, craft, and structure include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Unit 1, Lesson: Understanding the Structure of Porpoises in Peril, Part 1, students are asked to pay attention to the order of events. This text structure is important in order for students to understand the events that occur in narrative texts. The materials state, “In Lesson 1, you spent a lot of time thinking about the details in Porpoises in Peril. Those details told you about characters and helped you understand the problem in the story. This time, you’re going to keep reading about the Science Squad. Their investigation is about to heat up! As you start the second half of Chapter 3, pay attention to the order of events. This order is called the sequence of events. Often, the author will leave you clue words to show you when a new event takes place. These words include first, next, then, and meanwhile. Events are one of the essential elements of a story, along with character and setting. To know what happens to the characters in a story, readers must pay attention to the sequence of events. Which events in this part of the story happen at the same time? Which details let you know this?How do the illustrations help you understand the sequence of events?” As students continue reading, they use a Sequence Chart to help them track the sequence of events.
  • In Unit 1, Lesson: Understanding the Structure of Porpoises in Peril, Part 3, students learn why it is important to note author’s word choice: “Last time the Science Squad made a huge discovery. The group identified what was making the porpoises sick: Drake Darkly’s mining project. You learned this through the events in the story. This time, you will examine the author’s word choice. Look at how she describes actions and people. Pay attention to the words the characters say. Good readers pay attention to author’s word choice because it helps them more fully understand point of view and tone. As you read, use sticky notes to mark any words that stick out to you. They can be descriptive words or parts of dialogue. An author’s word choices can tell you a lot about the action in a story. Word choices affect the tone of what is happening in a story. An author chooses words carefully to make a story feel exciting, scary, serious, funny, and many other ways."
  • In Unit 2, Lesson: The Story of How the Sea Became Salty, Part 3, students locate the following sentence: “The boy put his basket of salt in his father’s small boat.” On page 22 in Why the Sea is Salty, students are directed to the pronoun his and how this pronoun tells the reader the story is written in third person. Students are asked to explain how the sentence be different if the boy were telling the story.
  • Unit 2, Lesson: The Story of How the Sea Became Salty, Part 4, students read chapter 7-8 in Why the Sea is Salty and respond to the questions: “Why was it written?; How do the events in these chapters help you answer the question, Why is the sea salty?” Students read to determine theme by answering the following questions: “How do the illustrations on pages 32-33 show what it was like for the giant when the ants crawled on the foot? What does the dialogue on page 33 tell you about the giant? What does this outcome suggest is the theme of the story?”
  • In Unit 3, Lesson: Earthquakes!, Part 2, students use the text Earthquakes pages 10-13 to determine which details are most important by answering the following questions in the English Language Arts journal: "What key detail explains why most earthquakes in the United States occur in California? How does the map on page 12 help explain where most of the world’s earthquakes happen?"
  • In Unit 4, Lesson: It will Poggle Your Mind, Part 2, students use the text The Tale of Two Poggles to understand how authors use word choice to help readers understand the details in the story. Students are tasked with reading Chapter 3 and answering the questions: "Why does the author choose the word grimmer to describe the inside of the factory? How does the author’s word choice add emphasis to other important details? Find three other examples."
  • In Unit 4, Lesson: How Do Story Elements Connect in Lunch Money?, Part 4, students read the text Lunch Money and answer the following questions in the English Language Arts journal: “What new ideas about Maura are introduced through Mr. Z? Can you find details or text evidence to support Mr. Z’s ideas? From this, what can you infer or conclude about Mr. Z?”

Indicator 2c

Materials contain a coherently sequenced set of text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across both individual and multiple texts.
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria that materials contain a coherently sequenced set of text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across both individual and multiple texts.


The questions posed throughout each unit require students to return to text selections in order to recall details, analyze various aspects of the text, evaluate characters’ actions and motivations. Question sets are sequenced coherently within each lesson to support students in building knowledge about the story elements, structure as well as author’s purpose, perspective and craft. Students may also integrate their knowledge across texts, and are asked to compare and contrast texts, as well as replicate what they are learning in their own writing. However, the focus of the questions and tasks are often on the surface or mechanics of the process, rather than on developing deeper understanding of a topic.

While most questions and tasks are coherently sequenced, many are literal and do not require more than a basic demonstration of comprehension of a detail within the text. For example:

  • Unit 1 examples include: In Lesson: Mary Anning: The Girl Who Cracked Open the World, students return to the text to respond to the following series of text-dependent questions: “Who is the biography about? What is that person like?”, “Where and when did Mary Anning live?”, “How would you describe Mary? What details from the text to back up your description?”, “What is Mary’s relationship with her father? What details support this?”, “What do you learn about Mary from what others in town think about her?”, “What was the first thing that happened after Mary and her brother found parts of the skeleton?”, “What happened after the ichthyosaur was put on display? How might Mary have reacted?”, “What did Mary do after selling the ichthyosaur?”, “What details show how Henry helped Mary and her discoveries become better known? What can you infer about Henry?”, “What happened that made people believe that Mary wasn’t making up her creatures? How does this affect Mary?”, “On page 22, Mary is described as “furious” when people did not believe her. Based on what you know of Mary, why is she angry?”,  “What are two examples that show Mary made important discoveries?”, “What are two examples that show how Mary became famous for her work?”
  • During Part 5 of Lesson: What goes into a Narrative, students are asked to apply the knowledge gained from analyzing narrative elements to a new text titled, Circus Family. In Lesson Digging Deeper into Character and Plot, Parts 1-5 and Lesson News from Coyote School, Parts 1-5 to dig deeper into story elements. Students do this through the reading of the text, Max Malone Makes a Million and the poem, Gold. Students answer questions such as: “What details help introduce Max and his family?” “Which details in the text show you how the characters feel?” “How do both Lunch Money and Max Malone Makes a Million support the idea that collaboration leads to creative solutions?” Students also complete main idea and key detail graphic organizer, a four-column chart, and a Venn diagram that compares the main character Greg from Lunch Money to the main character Max from Max Malone Makes a Million.


While students do read across texts with coherent questions, the focus is on basic comprehension rather than on the topics introduced and explored by the texts.
Some sequences of questions provide access to building knowledge by highlighting topics within the text. For instance:

  • Unit 3 examples include: In Lesson: Earthquakes!, students return to the text to respond to the following series of text-dependent questions that show how key details lead readers to understanding the main idea of a text: “How does the author use details and examples to explain earthquakes on the opening two pages?”, “How do the details and examples on pages 8–9 differ from those on pages 4–7?”, “What key detail explains why most earthquakes in the United States occur in California?”, “How does the map on page 12 help explain where most of the world’s earthquakes happen?”, “Why might the San Francisco area have another major earthquake?”, “How do scientists measure and compare earthquakes?”, “What two sentences show how the Richter scale and Mercalli Intensity scale are different?”, “How does the author compare the 2004 Sumatra earthquake and the 1989 San Francisco earthquake?”, “What details in the text indicate the types of damage caused by earthquakes?”, “What details does the text provide to describe sand boils?”, “Why are sand boils dangerous to buildings?”, “What detail explains why earthquakes that happen underwater cause tsunamis?”, “What details explain what builders can do to make buildings safe?”, “What details give readers advice for what they should do during an earthquake if they are inside?”, “What details tell readers what they should do if they are outside when an earthquake strikes?”

Indicator 2d

The questions and tasks support students' ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic (or, for grades 6-8, a theme) through integrated skills (e.g. combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening).
0/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 do not meet the criteria that the questions and tasks support students’ ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic through integrated skills (e.g. combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening).
The Grade 4 curriculum contains 6 units, of which only Units 1, 2, and 3 include a project connected to texts and skills taught during the unit. As students move through each unit, they are working on specific activities integrating reading and writing that will help them complete the project. As the student engages in the learning provided in each unit, they are guided through limited activities that help to complete the overall project. However, speaking and listening are not required, and the focus of this work is not consistently connected to building knowledge.
Students complete sections of the unit project throughout the unit. Rather than demonstrating comprehension and knowledge of a topic, projects focus mainly on writing skills and writing process elements. Students utilize Information from some of the texts read during the units. Units 4-6 do not include culminating tasks in the form of projects. They include short and extended writing tasks connected to texts and skills taught during the unit. Students demonstrate skills developed during the unit during these tasks. Opportunities are missed for oral presentation in all of the projects and writing tasks.
Examples include, but are not limited to the following

  • In Unit 2, Lesson: How the Sea Became Salty, Parts 1-5, students write a narrative, write an opening paragraph for a narrative, use quotations marks for dialogue and quotes and write a scene with dialogue. In part 1, students write an opening paragraph for a narrative considering the following questions: Where and when will my story take place? Who are the characters? What is the plot, or sequence of events? Students work on a narrative that involves an experience with nature for the rest of the lesson Parts 1-5.  Students are tasked with adding details that make the narrative come alive for the readers by considering the following questions: Where are the characters? What are they doing and saying? What feelings do they have? Students write an opening paragraph.  In Part 3, students write a scene including a dialogue between two characters. Students are tasked with including the following elements to create a strong,  dialogue: Reflect the situation the characters are in, Show the unique, or special, traits of each character, Show the relationship of the characters, Help move the plot along In Part 4, students learn and practice writing about the theme of the story Why the Sea Became Salty and respond to the following questions:  How do the illustrations on pages 32 and 33 show what it was like for the giant when the ants crawled on the foot? What does the dialogue on p. 33 tell you about the giant? What does the giant do the second time he acts as a bridge? How does he respond? What does this outcome suggest is the theme of the story? In Part 5, students practice this skill with another text titled, The Lion’s Whiskers and complete a narrative containing an introduction that clearly states the theme, a body with at least three details from the story. All of which support the students’ claim as to what the theme is and a conclusion that ties all the paragraphs together.


In Unit 2, Lesson: Why Was It the Longest Night, Parts 1-7, students are encountering opinion writing for the first time. Students continue to develop skills in reading literature, but are now applying skills to respond to literature with opinion.  Students support an opinion with evidence, write an opinion paragraph, group related ideas in paragraphs, use key ideas and details to support opinions and determine valid evidence to support an opinion. In Part 1, after reading The Longest Night, students write to the prompt, What do you think of his feelings about his Vision Quest? Using the following questions to guide thinking: What is my opinion about Wind Runner as he prepares for his Vision Quest? What reasons do I have for that opinion? What details from the text support those reasons? How can I organize these details into a strong paragraph? In Part 3, students write two to three paragraphs giving an opinion on this question.  What do you think? Will Wind Runner succeed in his Vision Quest? Students are tasked with including the following information in the opinion writing: Have an introduction that clearly states the opinion. Give reasons for that opinion and provide details from the story that support those reasons.Have a conclusion that says the opinion in a different way and ties the paragraph together. In Part 6, students complete another opinion piece in answer to the questions: Could Wind Runner have learned these lessons without the dog? In your view, would Wind Runner have succeeded in his Vision Quest without a Spirit Helper?

In these examples, students are practicing writing opinions (including growing their composition skills) but these are not necessarily related to the content being read. Student work is focused on the mechanics of the process here, rather than on also supporting learning about the topics encountered in the readings.

In Unit 2, Lesson: Fact and Fiction, Parts 1-5, students complete an entire opinion piece, including the linking words and concluding statement (previously students had only been focused on clearly stating an opinion and supporting with reasons.) In the next unit, students will complete a project by writing an Op-ed, in which students will follow this process.
There are some examples of culminating tasks that support some knowledge building. An example:

  • In the Unit 1, Project: TV’s Newest Reporter, students take on the role of an investigative journalist. Students select one of the problem options (climate change and its impact on the activities people do in summer and winter; destruction of the rainforest; impact of recycling on the environment) and develop a research question to investigate. Students research, plan, draft, write, edit, and revise an investigative news report that must include; information based on research from reliable sources, a well-organized report that includes details, precise language and vocabulary, clear and effective visuals, and a delivery of the news report that has expression, eye contact, and is engaging.

Throughout the unit students are supported with nonfiction and fiction texts (Porpoises in Peril; Mary Anning: The Girl Who Cracked Open the World; Fragile Frogs; Skeletons: Inside and Out; Movers and Shapers) based on themes of nature and biology. Through the reading of these texts, students will learn how to relay scientific information clearly and accurately as well as apply explanatory writing elements and skills. Students will see different ways authors present factual information in both nonfiction and fiction text.

While this task is connected on texts and information that work together, the overall emphasis of the work is more heavily on the side of the skills practiced than on students’ deep understanding and growth in knowledge.

Indicator 2e

Materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary words in and across texts.
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria that materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary words in and across texts.

The Grade 4 materials offer some opportunities for students to interact with and build academic vocabulary words in and across texts. Vocabulary is introduced at the start of almost every lesson in some units, but rarely referred back to during the instruction across the Lesson Parts. Explicit vocabulary instruction is limited on variations for applying meaning and use of the words. Student application is limited to asking students to use the words in a sentence.

Within each lesson, there may only be one lesson part that includes explicit vocabulary instruction and the explicit vocabulary instruction may or may not include practice with all the words listed at the start of the reading. Explicit vocabulary instruction is inconsistent. Implicit vocabulary instruction is limited and may consist of a note to students that states, “if you see words you do not know, write them in your ELA Journal.”

Word-learning strategies are the focus of the Benchmark Vocabulary lessons throughout some units to increase student independence when coming to unknown words in text. Materials do not provide guidance for the Learning Guide that outlines a cohesive year-long vocabulary development component and there are limited opportunities for students to learn, practice, apply, and transfer words into familiar and new contexts. Examples of vocabulary outlined include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Unit 1, Lesson: What’s Wrong with the Porpoises?, Parts 1-6, students read the text Porpoises in Peril. In Part 5, students learn about how context clues help readers understand unfamiliar words. Students are tasked with reading pages 21–24 of Porpoises in Peril and using sticky notes to mark any unfamiliar or difficult words and discussing with the Learning Guide. Students continue to look for explanations of hypothesize, peculiarly, reassuringly, and interview while reading and then write each word and the clue on one side of an index card. On the other side, students write a thought about what the word’s definition is, then, check the definition with a dictionary.
  • In Unit 2, Lesson: The Story of How the Sea Became Salty, Part 1, students read the text Why the Sea is Salty and are provided a list of vocabulary which include: wounds, tastier, preserve, mined, rough, chamber, crouching, measuring, puzzled, eagerly, wriggled, chuckled, and plucked. In Part 4, students are reminded that they might come across words they have not seen before and should look for clues in the words around it. Students are directed to find the word plucked in the story on page 40. Students reread the text and how the word is used, “you can imagine that plucked means to take hold of something and quickly remove it from danger.” Students then look for clues in the text to better understand wriggled and chuckled. Students are directed to use the words plucked, wriggled, and chuckled in a conversation with the Learning Guide or another partner.
  • In Unit 2, Lesson: How the Stars Fell into the Sky, Part 1, students read a Navajo story titled, How the Stars Fell into the Sky. Students are provided with a list of vocabulary which include: legend, mythology, impatiently, squatting whine, deliberately, shifting, grumbled, crouching, disarray, and haste. In Part 4, explicit vocabulary instruction shows students how writers often put hints in the writing to help the reader understand a new word. Students are directed to find the word disarray on page 97. Students are to look for words around it that might give a clue about its meaning. Students write a sentence in their ELA Journal that uses the word disarray.
  • In Unit 3, Lesson: Studying Volcanoes, Parts 1-7, students use context clues to find the meanings to unknown or unfamiliar words while reading Anatomy of a Volcanic Eruption. Students complete a T-Chart. Students give the T-chart the title Using Context Clues, label the left column Unknown Words and the right column Context Clues. Students read a section of the text and write down any domain-specific words that are new in the left column. Possibilities are volcanologist, geological, seismology, GPS, infrasound, and infrared. In the right column, students write down the context clues that helped to figure out meanings.
  • In Unit 3, Lesson: A Tsunami Unfolds, Parts 1-7, students read the text A Tsunami Unfolds, and utilize the strategies from Unit 1, Part 3 of Porpoises in Peril to find the meaning to vocabulary words within the text. Students receive explicit instruction with the word evacuate and are tasked with using the word in two sentences in the ELA journal and discussing with the Learning Guide. Students work independently to understand the meanings of the words scrambling (page 12), monitoring (page 16) and broadcast (page 18).
  • In Unit 4, Lesson: Everything You Wanted to Know About Money, Part 1, students learn about two Latin Roots gener and port. Students learn about their history along with their definitions. Students utilize the roots to deepen their understanding of two words read in their text Using Money: generated and transport. Students then write down the words generation and import. Students underline the root of each word, discuss the meaning with their Learning Guide, and use a dictionary to see if they are correct.
  • In Unit 4, Lesson: What Goes into a Narrative?, Part 1, students continue to read the fiction text, Lunch Money. Vocabulary identified for chapters 15 and 16 include: contrast, contritely, efficient, derailed, agenda, negotiations, controversy, pioneering, confession, and privilege. In Part 2, explicit vocabulary instruction provides students with strategies for determining meaning of unknown words. Strategies include: look for clues, break down the word into parts, and use a dictionary to determine meaning. Students practice the strategies with the word efficient. Students look at page 165, find the word efficient and read the surrounding words. Students use the surrounding text as clues to determine meaning. Students look for parts of the word that could help determine meaning and look up the word in the dictionary. Students apply their understanding of the meaning of the word by writing two sentences that use the word efficient. Students repeat the steps with the words derailed and controversy. The teaching notes encourage the Learning Guide to push students to use a variety of strategies for determining meaning of unknown words.
  • In Unit 4, Lesson: All the News from Coyote School, Part 1, students read the poem "Gold" in the text collection and read pages 58-66 of Coyote School. Vocabulary words identified include: inspection, promoted, irrational, production, imitation, and contributed. Explicit vocabulary instruction states for students to stop when they come to these words in the text (pages are provided for each word). Students are to say the word aloud and discuss the meaning with the Learning Guide. Students should check their meaning for the word with a dictionary. Students make up a sentence that uses the word. Teaching notes for the Learning Guide state, “Check that your student’s sentences use the words correctly.”

Indicator 2f

Materials include a cohesive, year-long plan to support students’ increasing writing skills over the course of the school year, building students’ writing ability to demonstrate proficiency at grade level at the end of the school year.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria that materials contain a year long, cohesive plan of writing instruction and tasks which support students in building and communicating substantive understanding of topics and texts.

At the beginning of each unit, background knowledge for content and writing skill areas is embedded into the first select lessons. As the unit continues, selected texts, writing tasks, writing stamina, and any projects increase in length and complexity. The learning guide gradually releases responsibility to students; from modeling and full support to independent completion with scaffolded support. Students demonstrate this understanding through a variety of instructional tasks within the PLUS structure (Project, Show, Use, Learn).

Throughout the units, students have multiple opportunities to respond using text-based evidence to support their answers. Students respond in their ELA Journals, through discussion with their learning guide, show their learning via interactive online tasks, and complete culminating projects that encompass a unit’s worth of knowledge. Students participate in shorter writing tasks and have opportunities to go back to the writing tasks to revise by adding content or incorporating the skill they are learning (e.g., description). In multiple units throughout, the smaller writing tasks are pieces of the culminating project. Each unit has an assessment or culminating task that at some point would have required interaction from all four literacy domains (reading, writing, listening, and speaking).

According to the Support Services document, “Instead of providing ancillary materials for Learning Guides, Calvert provides customers access to highly-trained, certified professional educators for any questions or needs that arise from the curriculum! Education Counselors have considerable experience in the classroom and are extensively trained on the curriculum. The Advisory Teaching Service (ATS) is an optional service that may be purchased from Calvert that enhances the services offered by education counselors.”

Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Unit 1, TV’s Newest Reporter, students follow several steps to research and write a news report project that includes choosing one of these topics on which to report: "Climate change and its impact on the activities people do in summer and winter. Destruction of the rainforest, causing some plants and animals to go extinct. or The impact of recycling on the environment, such as keeping trash out of local bodies of water or the oceans."

Students develop a research question to narrow the topic, gather information to answer a research question, plan the report by organizing findings, write, revise, and edit the report, adding visuals that support the report. Finally, they deliver their report.

The final report needs to include: information based on research in at least five relevant, reliable sources; a well-organized report with a strong beginning, a well-developed body, and a strong end that includes clear explanation of scientific concepts and plentiful details; evidence of revision and editing to ensure that the report is effectively organized, uses precise language and domain-specific vocabulary, and is free of errors; at least one clear and effective visual that supports the information in the report; and delivery of the report that shows you speaking clearly, loud enough to be heard, with expression, and eye contact with the audience. Additionally during this unit, students also receive explicit instruction in summarizing and practice this skill in several lessons.

  • In Unit 2, Lesson: How the Sea Became Salty, Part 1: Students write an opening paragraph for their own narrative. Students refer to Chapters 1 and 2 from the text Why the Sea is Salty to see a model of how a narrator tells events in a natural sequence. Students are directed to think about the guiding questions: “Where and when will my story take place? Who are the characters? What is the plot, or sequence of events?” to help develop their opening paragraph. In Part 2, students write a brief narrative that should involve an experience with nature. Students are directed to add details and dialogue in their narrative. In Part 3, students write a scene for the narrative that includes dialogue between two characters. The dialogue should reflect the situation the characters are in; show the unique, or special, traits of each character; show the relationship of the characters; an should help move the plot along.
  • In Unit 2, Lesson: Fiction and Fact, Parts 1-5, students work on an opinion essay stating which of the two sections in Three Native Nations they found more interesting. Students begin the opinion writing in part 1, by writing the introduction, remembering to include the topic and a clearly stated opinion. In Part 2, students develop the main idea paragraphs which include supporting details. In Part 3, students analyze a visual that supports the main idea and opinion. Students add a paragraph to their writing that explains how the visual support the opinion. In Parts 4-5, students work on finalizing the opinion writing by checking for specific details that support the opinion, interesting sentences, strong and precise word choice, organization, and an impactful conclusion that stays with the reader.
  • In Unit 3, Now Hear Me Out, students write an opinion-editorial for a newspaper. Students research an issue, choosing among the three following topics: "Should our community help people who are affected by a natural disaster? At what age should students be allowed to have social media accounts? How much time should students spend on tablets and smartphones?" Students then write a few paragraphs that explain what the issue is about. They form an opinion on the issue and write an opinion editorial that includes a call to action. A call to action encourages people to do something based on the opinion shared. Students have the option to submit their opinion editorial to a local newspaper. As the unit progresses, students practice other short writing exercises connected to a specific skill. They also build skills connected to the opinion-editorial project. For example, in Volcanic Eruptions, Part 3, students learn about paragraph writing and write an informative paragraph explaining what a volcanologist does. In Studying Volcanoes, Part 3, students write a draft about what life is like living in the shadow of a volcano. The task is to fully develop the topic so readers understand it. Students learn to present facts, definitions, and concrete details about the topic. They can also use quotations to help develop the topic in an interesting way.
  • In Unit 4, Lesson: Everything You Wanted to Know About Money, Parts1-5: Students write an opinion essay in response to the question: “Which money system is better, the modern money system or ancient systems of bartering?" Students use the text from the lesson as information that can support their opinion. Within each lesson part, students are working on a part of the opinion essay. Each part of the essay directly relates to the work students are doing with the text during direct reading instruction and practice. For the opinion essay, students need to include an opinion statement that includes at least two or three reasons for the opinion with each reason supported with details from the text. Students should also include a strong introduction that directly states the opinion that engages the reader and a strong conclusion that restates the main argument and summarizes the reasons for their opinion.
  • In Unit 4, Lesson: What Goes Into a Narrative, Parts 1-5, students write a personal narrative from beginning to end. In Part 1, students use descriptive details to write a narrative scene involving two characters trying to solve a problem. Students are tasked with brainstorming details about the characters and creating an outline of events in the story. Students will write two paragraphs describing a scene in the English Language Arts Journal. In Part 2, students read the text Lunch Money and complete a web graphic organizer to analyze the characters more deeply through the words and actions. Students write about an experience beginning with a prewrite using a Sequence Chart to put events in order and, then choose the transition words. Students’ narratives will include: a clear sequence of events that tell the story in the correct order, making sure to use transition words to show that order, the use descriptive details to clearly show the people involved and what happened. In Part 3, students practice making good word choices while writing a narrative about two characters who compete to sell a similar product, like Maura and Greg from the text Lunch Money. Students will begin with a brainstorm to determine characters, product, and setting including at least one interesting word choice, figurative language, or sensory detail that applies to each of the two characters and the product. Once the two paragraph prewrite is complete, students will write a draft. In Part 4, students write a sequel to Lunch Money in one or two paragraphs making sure to include the two main characters Greg and Maura. In the sequel, the characters will come into conflict when they share different opinions on what they want the new product to be. Students will complete a T-chart of the characters feelings during the pre-write process and then write a draft of the scene. In Part 5, students complete an assessment to apply the learning from the lessons by reading short book and analyze how the author uses dialogue to reveal characters’ responses to events or other characters and to develop events in the story.

Indicator 2g

Materials include a progression of focused research projects to encourage students to develop knowledge in a given area by confronting and analyzing different aspects of a topic using multiple texts and source materials.
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria that materials include a progression of focused research projects to encourage students to develop knowledge in a given area by confronting and analyzing different aspects of a topic using multiple texts and source materials.

Units include some projects that incorporate research skills. Texts read throughout the given unit are at times, used to complete projects. Students complete projects that encourage them to utilize skills learned and develop knowledge of some texts and some sources. While opportunities for students to develop research skills are present, students do not necessarily need to analyze a topic in order to complete the project. There are opportunities for students to engage with print and digital materials through the LEARN Cards to increase their skills in order to pursue answers to questions related to the content.

In Unit 1, students complete a project where they take on the role of an investigative reporter, digging into and reporting on an issue. Students research, write a report for a news segment, create visuals to support their report, and video the segment. Students are asked to choose from three topics: "climate change and its impact on the activities people do in summer and winter; destruction of the rainforest, causing some plants and animals to go extinct; and the impact of recycling on the environment such as keeping trash out of local bodies of water or the oceans." Students develop a research question to narrow their topic, gather information to answer their guiding question, plan and write the report, revise and edit, make a visual to support the report, and deliver their news report.

In Unit 3, students complete a project in which they are required to write an op-ed (opinion-editorial) for a local newspaper. Students choose an issue, write a few paragraphs that explain what the issue is about, form an opinion on the issue and end the editorial with a call to action. The purpose is to encourage people to do something based on the opinion shared. Students choose from three topics: “Should our community help people who are affected by a natural disaster? At what age should students be allowed to have social media accounts? How much time should students spend on tablets and Smartphones?”

In Unit 4, Lesson: Everything about Money, Part 1-5 students learn about different money systems. Student learning is centered around the following question: “Which money system is better, the modern money system or ancient systems of bartering?" Students read the text, Using Money. Students use the information in the text to write an opinion essay. Students are directed to find and use two websites to research for evidence for their writing. Students are reminded about being careful while researching online and directed to a BrainPOP movie “Online Resources” for more information.

Indicator 2h

Materials provide a design, including accountability, for how students will regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials for Grade 4 meet the expectations for materials providing a design, including accountability, for how students will regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class.

The materials provide some ideas for independent reading. The Before You Begin section states there is a reading log. The lessons provide scaffolding opportunities to help foster independent reading. Guidance is provided through the teaching notes. The Before You Begin section says that the students will be reading two to three books per week outside their class texts.

The LEARN Card activities as students are encouraged and reminded to read books independently, while noting the titles of the books read in their Reading Log. In the Getting Started portion of the platform, the following information is provided for students:

“You should be working to read at least 2–3 books per week in addition to the books in your ELA course. Your Reading Log is a great way to see how much you have read and the kinds of books you enjoy reading. To create your Reading Log, make a table that contains the book’s title, author, number of pages, and the dates you were reading the book. Remember to keep your Reading Log up to date all year long, since you will refer to it in some of your lessons. To find texts to read outside of your classwork, you can use independent reading resources, or visit your local library and ask your librarian”.

Information about Independent Reading expectations is found in the “Before You Begin” portion at the beginning of the school year. Calvert suggests 30 minutes of independent reading per day of instruction. The Learning Guide is at liberty to decide when students actively engage in Independent Reading throughout the day.

Students are asked to keep a Reading Log as noted in the “Before You Begin” section. It is suggested that students read on average two to three books per week above and beyond curriculum expected materials and texts. A link is provided for the Learning Guide to assist in helping students find independent reading books at their level. The resource that is provided includes Lexile bands that are appropriate for each grade level and a listing of retail stores and online platforms to find books. No specific mention of titles is provided, only a list of suggested guidelines to support the Learning Guide.

In the “Before You Begin” materials, there is a section dedicated to “Reading Log.” Within this section there is a hyperlink to a document titled, “Independent Reading Resource.” This document is intended for the Learning Guide. It provides directives about text selection, a table with Lexile bands, and links to websites for book lists. Students are directed at different times during the units to apply a standard/skill they have learned during instruction to their independent reading. Students then complete self-selected reading and record their progress in their reading log. The Learning Guide has flexibility to have students read texts independently. Therefore, it would be up to the discretion of the Learning Guide, not the design of the curriculum. Teachers are provided limited instruction on how to support reader independence. Directives for both student and Learning Guide are repetitive. There is no pattern or routine to when students are given directives towards independent reading and the reading log.

  • In the Getting Started Section of each unit students can access the protocols in the Independent Reading Resources Link under the Reading Log section. Criteria for independent reading selections is provided as well as the quantitative complexity measures for each grade level. This section also contains several resources containing reading lists and a Lexile website where Learning Guides can obtain quantitative complexity of a text. The materials state:
    • "Texts are comprehended by your student while reading independently (or comprehended when read aloud to emergent readers)
    • Encompass a wide breadth of topics, genres, formats, and challenges
    • Include both fiction and nonfiction texts
    • Be of interest to your student and allow him or her to explore new areas of interest
    • Strive to meet quantitative complexity requirements for your student’s grade band"

Students are tasked with reading at least two to three books per week in addition to the books in the ELA course. Students create the Reading Log, make a table that contains the book’s title, author, number of pages, and the dates. Students are tasked with keeping the Reading Log up to date all year long, since it will be referred to it in some of lessons.

  • In Unit 1, Lesson: What’s Wrong with the Porpoises?, Part 6, during independent reading outside of class students are tasked with thinking about the words the author chooses in the text and answering the question: "Why does the author choose one particular word and not a synonym that has a slightly different meaning?" Students are reminded to write the titles of books read in the Reading Log.
  • In Unit 1, Lesson: Mary Anning: The Girl Who Cracked Open the World, Part 4, students are tasked with paying careful attention to how authors use domain-specific language. Students think about how authors introduce new terms and concepts. They may use text features, clear definitions, context clues, or examples. Students are asked, "How do these approaches help readers understand new words?" Students write the titles of books in the Reading Log.
  • In Unit 1, Lesson: Structures and Details, Part 4, students are tasked with reading some fiction and some nonfiction so there is variety in what is being read. Good readers seek variety in order to appreciate many different ideas and points of view. Students write about why certain topics interest the student and write the reasons in the Reading Log.
  • In Unit 2, Lesson: How the Stars Fell into the Sky, Part 5: In the section titled, Reading Log, students are reminded that when they read for fun, they can think about the words that an author uses and chooses. Students are provided the guiding question: “What does the choice tell you about the author’s message?” In the teaching notes for the Learning Guide, they are reminded to have students share the books they are reading independently and to encourage the student(s) to talk about word choice.
  • Unit 2, Lesson: A Tall Tale of the Old West, Part 5: In the section titled, Reading Log students are reminded that they have been thinking a lot about figurative language. Students are directed to look for figurative language in their independent reading. Guiding questions include: "What do the similes and metaphors that they use mean? How do they make the story come alive? What feelings do they give you?" In the teaching notes for the Learning Guide, they are reminded to have students share the books they are reading and to encourage students to share the figurative language that was memorable or meaningful.
  • In Unit 3, Lesson: Studying Volcanoes, Part 3, students are tasked with focusing on descriptive details that appeal to the sense in this text while reading independently in a student chosen book. Students keep an eye out for details that the author uses that help the reader see, feel, hear, taste, or smell parts of the scene being described. Students are asked, “How do these details make the writing come alive?” Students write the titles of books in the Reading Log.
  • In Unit 3, Lesson: Earthquakes! Part 5, students are tasked with concentrating on details that the author puts into a story. Students are asked: “How does he or she describe the setting of a story? What clues can the reader get about what might happen from the way the author describes a town or a home?” Students write the titles in the Reading Log.
  • In Unit 4, Lesson: How Do Story Elements Connect in Lunch Money?, Part 3, students are asked to note how characters, plot, and setting all interact within the chapters they have read in Lunch Money. Students are asked the following questions: “How does the introduction of Mr. Z suggest that he will be an important character in the story? What is the main point made about him in this introduction? How are Greg and Maura’s conversations in the math class in Chapter 7, at the nurse’s office, and in the math room in Chapter 8 affected by those two settings? How does the setting affect what Greg tells the nurse about how he got hurt? How is Maura affected by the setting over this event? How does Greg and Maura’s relationship change in these conversations?”
  • In Unit 4, Lesson: All the News from Coyote School, Part 1: students are tasked with analyzing and reflect on story elements. Students are asked to consider the following questions as they read: “Describe the setting of “Gold.” What animals, colors, land, and weather are described? How is the setting for Coyote School News like the setting for “Gold?” Look at the specific descriptive words and at the pictures used What details in the story help you describe the Ramirez family?.” The teaching notes provide the following guidance for the Learning Guide to support fluency in student reading: “While your student is reading, assess his or her fluency. Explain that prosody is the patterns of rhythm and sounds found most typically in poetry. Reading for prosody means using the rhythm of words and the punctuation of lines of poetry to guide the reader to find complete units of meaning. If there is no punctuation at the end of a line of poetry, the reader should continue reading without pause. Model reading for prosody using the first stanza of “Gold.” Then, have your student read the rest of the poem aloud, showing similar awareness of the poem’s structure and rhythm.”

Gateway Three

Usability

Not Rated

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Gateway Three Details
This material was not reviewed for Gateway Three because it did not meet expectations for Gateways One and Two

Criterion 3a - 3e

Indicator 3a

Materials are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing.
N/A

Indicator 3b

The teacher and student can reasonably complete the content within a regular school year, and the pacing allows for maximum student understanding.
N/A

Indicator 3c

The student resources include ample review and practice resources, clear directions, and explanation, and correct labeling of reference aids (e.g., visuals, maps, etc.).
N/A

Indicator 3d

Materials include publisher-produced alignment documentation of the standards addressed by specific questions, tasks, and assessment items.
N/A

Indicator 3e

The visual design (whether in print or digital) is not distracting or chaotic, but supports students in engaging thoughtfully with the subject.
N/A

Criterion 3f - 3j

Materials support teacher learning and understanding of the Standards.

Indicator 3f

Materials contain a teacher's edition with ample and useful annotations and suggestions on how to present the content in the student edition and in the ancillary materials. Where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning.
N/A

Indicator 3g

Materials contain a teacher's edition that contains full, adult-level explanations and examples of the more advanced literacy concepts so that teachers can improve their own knowledge of the subject, as necessary.
N/A

Indicator 3h

Materials contain a teacher's edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum.
N/A

Indicator 3i

Materials contain explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research-based strategies.
N/A

Indicator 3j

Materials contain strategies for informing all stakeholders, including students, parents, or caregivers about the ELA/literacy program and suggestions for how they can help support student progress and achievement.
N/A

Criterion 3k - 3n

Materials offer teachers resources and tools to collect ongoing data about student progress on the Standards.

Indicator 3k

Materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress.
N/A

Indicator 3l

The purpose/use of each assessment is clear:
N/A

Indicator 3l.i

Assessments clearly denote which standards are being emphasized.
N/A

Indicator 3l.ii

Assessments provide sufficient guidance to teachers for interpreting student performance and suggestions for follow-up.
N/A

Indicator 3m

Materials should include routines and guidance that point out opportunities to monitor student progress.
N/A

Indicator 3n

Materials indicate how students are accountable for independent reading based on student choice and interest to build stamina, confidence, and motivation.
N/A

Criterion 3o - 3r

Materials provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners so that they demonstrate independent ability with grade-level standards.

Indicator 3o

Materials provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners so the content is accessible to all learners and supports them in meeting or exceeding the grade-level standards.
N/A

Indicator 3p

Materials regularly provide all students, including those who read, write, speak, or listen below grade level, or in a language other than English, with extensive opportunities to work with grade level text and meet or exceed grade-level standards.
N/A

Indicator 3q

Materials regularly include extensions and/or more advanced opportunities for students who read, write, speak, or listen above grade level.
N/A

Indicator 3r

Materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies.
N/A

Criterion 3s - 3v

Materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning. Digital materials are accessible and available in multiple platforms.

Indicator 3s

Digital materials (either included as supplementary to a textbook or as part of a digital curriculum) are web-based, compatible with multiple Internet browsers (e.g., Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.), "platform neutral" (i.e., are compatible with multiple operating systems such as Windows and Apple and are not proprietary to any single platform), follow universal programming style, and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices.
N/A

Indicator 3t

Materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning, drawing attention to evidence and texts as appropriate.
N/A

Indicator 3u

Materials can be easily customized for individual learners.
N/A

Indicator 3u.i

Digital materials include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations.
N/A

Indicator 3u.ii

Materials can be easily customized for local use.
N/A

Indicator 3v

Materials include or reference technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other (e.g. websites, discussion groups, webinars, etc.).
N/A

Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: 04/15/2019

Report Edition: 2018

About Publishers Responses

All publishers are invited to provide an orientation to the educator-led team that will be reviewing their materials. The review teams also can ask publishers clarifying questions about their programs throughout the review process.

Once a review is complete, publishers have the opportunity to post a 1,500-word response to the educator report and a 1,500-word document that includes any background information or research on the instructional materials.

Educator-Led Review Teams

Each report found on EdReports.org represents hundreds of hours of work by educator reviewers. Working in teams of 4-5, reviewers use educator-developed review tools, evidence guides, and key documents to thoroughly examine their sets of materials.

After receiving over 25 hours of training on the EdReports.org review tool and process, teams meet weekly over the course of several months to share evidence, come to consensus on scoring, and write the evidence that ultimately is shared on the website.

All team members look at every grade and indicator, ensuring that the entire team considers the program in full. The team lead and calibrator also meet in cross-team PLCs to ensure that the tool is being applied consistently among review teams. Final reports are the result of multiple educators analyzing every page, calibrating all findings, and reaching a unified conclusion.

Rubric Design

The EdReports.org’s rubric supports a sequential review process through three gateways. These gateways reflect the importance of standards alignment to the fundamental design elements of the materials and considers other attributes of high-quality curriculum as recommended by educators.

Advancing Through Gateways

  • Materials must meet or partially meet expectations for the first set of indicators to move along the process. Gateways 1 and 2 focus on questions of alignment. Are the instructional materials aligned to the standards? Are all standards present and treated with appropriate depth and quality required to support student learning?
  • Gateway 3 focuses on the question of usability. Are the instructional materials user-friendly for students and educators? Materials must be well designed to facilitate student learning and enhance a teacher’s ability to differentiate and build knowledge within the classroom. In order to be reviewed and attain a rating for usability (Gateway 3), the instructional materials must first meet expectations for alignment (Gateways 1 and 2).

Key Terms Used throughout Review Rubric and Reports

  • Indicator Specific item that reviewers look for in materials.
  • Criterion Combination of all of the individual indicators for a single focus area.
  • Gateway Organizing feature of the evaluation rubric that combines criteria and prioritizes order for sequential review.
  • Alignment Rating Degree to which materials meet expectations for alignment, including that all standards are present and treated with the appropriate depth to support students in learning the skills and knowledge that they need to be ready for college and career.
  • Usability Degree to which materials are consistent with effective practices for use and design, teacher planning and learning, assessment, and differentiated instruction.

ELA 3-8 Rubric and Evidence Guides

The ELA review rubrics identify the criteria and indicators for high quality instructional materials. The rubrics support a sequential review process that reflect the importance of alignment to the standards then consider other high-quality attributes of curriculum as recommended by educators.

For ELA, our rubrics evaluate materials based on:

  • Text Quality and Complexity, and Alignment to Standards with Tasks Grounded in Evidence

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

  • Instructional Supports and Usability

The ELA Evidence Guides complement the rubrics by elaborating details for each indicator including the purpose of the indicator, information on how to collect evidence, guiding questions and discussion prompts, and scoring criteria.

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